After months of hard work and meticulous planning, your restaurant is finally ready to open its doors. Your menu is perfect, the staff are highly trained, and all systems are operational. Now, you’re faced with the ever-important task of creating a buzz around your grand opening to ensure that customers begin pouring in from day one. While to some it might just seem like nothing more than a fun-filled party, restaurant grand openings are an important restaurant marketing strategy that can make or break early success.
Here are some restaurant opening ideas to help ensure that your restaurant’s big kick-off will generate excitement, create awareness and produce paying customers.
1. Soft launch with friends and family
To work out the kinks, consider a soft opening—a week or two where you open to no fanfare or publicity. This will give you time to make everything picture-perfect. Not only will it give you a little practice run before your restaurant’s grand opening, it’ll also give you a chance to get honest feedback about what is and isn’t working from the people closest to you and your idea.
2. Invite suppliers & stakeholders to experience the restaurant for free
Show appreciation for the builders and vendors who helped turn your restaurant dreams into reality. By inviting suppliers and stakeholders to experience your restaurant for free you show appreciation, which reflects well within the community. Plus, you can use this as another opportunity for a ‘practice run’ and to gain valuable feedback before the official opening.
3. Host a charity event
Including a charitable element in your grand opening celebrations will not only draw people who like to spend their dollars to support good causes, but it will help you to build relationships within the community. Partner with an already established charity that is special to your team and your customers. Create a special event with the charity, or sponsor an existing event and align the dates with your grand opening.
4. Run a competition
Leading up to the big day or weekend, run a competition. This is easily done using social media pages, or consider paid social ads to reach a broader audience if you don’t yet have a large social following. The grand prize can be whatever your budget allows, but a good place to start is with a free meal voucher. Include a coupon for a special deal redeemable within the first few days (or weeks) of opening for all those who enter the competition.
5. Giveaway a venue voucher to build your email database
Building your email database is an important step in building repeat clientele. By having an email database, you can send out promotions and special offers to an audience you know will receive it. On the day of your big opening, encourage customers to enter their email address into your loyalty program software. Be sure to offer an incentive such as a venue voucher.
6. Host a media event with local journalists, publications and influencers
This is your last chance to build up demand in your community and get potential customers excited. Reach out to every single reporter, blogger, local celebrity, social media influcencer, and public speaker you can find in your community. If you partner with local food critics or vloggers that have large followings, you can get your message out to their audience with a single Instagram post, YouTube video, or blog post.
7. 2 for 1 on opening day
The goal is to get these guests back in as soon as possible. A ‘bounce back’ offer is an easy way to do this. This can be in the form of a 2 for 1 coupon that is valid for a period of time after your grand opening, that encourages customers to visit your restaurant again in the near future to redeem their 2 for 1 deal.