Grand Opening in 4 Steps
After all your planning and preparation, your restaurant is finally on the precipice of opening. With the menu set and the chefs ready to go, you’re ready to throw open the front doors. The only thing standing between you and your first day as a restaurateur is the grand opening event.
For restaurants, the first few months are crucial. Unless you had a lot of savings in the bank, you likely found investors or partners to give you small business loans. Restaurants can take years to get out of the red, so the sooner you can break even the better. It all starts with a successful grand opening.
Make Your Grand Opening A Success
Planning a good party could make or break your restaurant moving forward. On top of generating revenue on the first night, you also gain brand recognition and even customer loyalty by providing a fun experience, thus making them eager to return. How can you throw a stellar event?
Set a scene of exclusivity with a soft opening before the big day. With a limited menu typically made for dinnertime, soft openings act as a good test to make sure your employees and technology run smoothly as intended. Invite friends and family who you can trust to give honest feedback about everything from the food to the decor. Also consider using influencers, either smaller followings whose recommendations feel genuine or respected community members. Either way, they’ll encourage others to follow their lead.
Give out samples and get a ton of feedback from everyone at this event so you can make the grand opening an even bigger hit.
Advertising is key to let everyone know about the exciting events on the horizon. Put up posters in the storefront window, use digital advertisements and get on social media if you aren’t already. Find out where your target audience spends their free time online and connect directly with them for positive engagement rates. Supplement these efforts with contests and quizzes to generate continual interest in your upcoming event.
Use the grand opening as a chance to promote your ongoing services, to try and make loyal customers out of your pool of invitees. Give out free samples and special offers to encourage them to return for later redemption. Try to convince attendees to agree to direct mail and newsletter signups, rewards programs, and other tempting offers that keep your brand in their thoughts in the future.
Curate a good list of invitees to guarantee the grand opening’s success. Good candidates may include:
- Friends and family wouldn’t want to miss your big achievement, and you wouldn’t want to celebrate without them.
- Local media for press coverage. Clips and articles will make great promotional material moving forward. Make sure to get photos with influential people at the event, too!
- Investors and partners who put their energy into the business deserve to celebrate the fruit of their labors, too.
- Chefs, food critics, and others who hold sway in the restaurant industry make great additions to the guest list.
Celebrating with the people who helped make your dream possible brings up the mood in any situation. A good atmosphere livens the celebration and kicks the business off right.
It may seem counterintuitive to partner up with local businesses, but it’s all part of joining the community. Networking opens the gate to nearby events, up-and-coming industry trends, future partnerships, and more. Join up with a winery to pair drinks for the grand opening or advertise with unrelated industries nearby that appeal to your target customer base. A one-off marketing team-up can become a fruitful, ongoing partnership.
Final Thoughts on Grand Openings
Independent restaurants may not have the seemingly infinite pool of funds and access to the newest tech on the market, the way big chains like McDonalds do, but that doesn’t mean you can’t throw a memorable grand opening regardless. With the right preparation, promotion, and guest list, your restaurant will have a grand opening to remember.
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