You have spent months creating your brand and renovating your space. Now that you have ordered all your food and bar supplies, it is officially time to open. Have you thought about how you will open your Restaurant?
A traditional grand opening in a restaurant is more than a way to tell the public you are officially open. It’s a marketing opportunity that can build momentum and set the stage for future success.
How grand should your opening be?
Grand opening of restaurant
Prior to planning your grand opening event for a restaurant, consider your goal. What are you ultimately looking to achieve?
Grand openings are important to some restaurateurs. They want to get as many people as possible through their doors.
It’s not a bad idea. The launch of a restaurant is often a newsworthy event by itself. This means that it is relatively easy to obtain (free) media coverage. This can be extremely valuable for any brand.
A traditional grand opening might not be the best option if your goal is to get rid of any kinks or make sure that you are ready to delight customers. A soft opening lets you launch quietly and optimize your operations, before you begin vying to get customers’ attention.
Some restaurants will open their doors to the public, allowing customers to find their way inside. Some restaurants may hold a “friends-and-family” gathering where there is no pressure to host full-blown celebrations. You can also get valuable feedback from your trusted guests.
This is all to say, before you begin planning, be clear about your goals.
Inspiration and ideas for grand openings of restaurants
Once you have decided that a grand opening is the right thing for you, you will need a strategy to get your first customers. You may attract some curious people, or passers-by who happen to be in the right spot at the right moment. To get meaningful crowds, you need to give them reasons to come in.
These are some ideas for grand openings in restaurants to grab your customers and get them interested.
Promotions: This is a great way to attract new customers. You can offer a promotion such as a “buy one get one” or “free appetizers or desserts with any meal” but the bottom line is that people love free stuff.
Deals for bringing a friend: Get more people to your table by encouraging your guests to bring their friends and family along and offering discounts based on how big the party is.
You can make your grand opening VIP-style. Why? Why? You can also make your guests do your marketing if they are thoughtful about it. If they have a great experience at your restaurant, members of the local media, community leaders, and influencers could all be valuable brand ambassadors.
Invite influencers: Even though you may not host a VIP event at your venue, it is a good idea to invite local influencers. This goes beyond journalists and reporters. You might find bloggers or social media influencers in your area who are willing to review your restaurant for you.
Swag: Everyone loves free stuff. Make sure that every customer is satisfied by having your logo printed on T-shirts, cups, koozies, and hats. This will make everyone a walking billboard of your brand.
Live entertainment: Nothing brings an event to life like live music. You can hire a band, an acoustic guitar player or a DJ to help you set the mood for your grand opening. If there is enough space, you can set up a dancefloor to make your event even more special.
COVID-friendly suggestions: If you are opening a restaurant in 2020 or 2021, Covid-19 will likely throw you a curveball. Even during a pandemic, it’s possible to celebrate the opening of a restaurant. Safety is of paramount importance. Outdoor space should be used whenever possible. Encourage social distancing among different parties and provide sanitation stations and masks. If your space is not large enough to accommodate large crowds, you might consider renting a food truck or setting up temporary take-out areas. This will allow you to serve more people and expose your brand to them without having to expose them to Covid.
Your Restaurant’s Grand Opening: How to Get the Word Out
Now you have a grand opening plan and your guests are excited. You need to let them know that it is happening.
If it’s a VIP event, you can approach the event like any other private event by sending out personalized invitations. This may be worthwhile for selected guests, e.g. Even if it’s not open to the public, reporters and influencers may be interested in this.
You may be limited by your budget when it comes to the type of promotion that you can do. You can take advantage of social media platforms that are free, regardless of whether you have the budget. Make profiles on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and connect with others to start posting. You can read our blog posts for marketing tips.
Although Instagram and Twitter are great tools for cross-promotion, Facebook offers event-specific tools you can use. You can create an event page on your restaurant’s Facebook page, where you will post all details and invite people. To keep track of who is interested and how many are attending, you can create an event page through your restaurant’s Facebook page. You can also sponsor event posts to boost your visibility in peoples’ Facebook feeds. This Facebook tutorial will show you how to create an event page.
Another low-budget option is to run a small PR campaign. Make a press release that you distribute to local media. HubSpot has a great tutorial for how to create a press release if you have never done it before. Here’s an example of a basic template.
Headline – This is a short, punchy and attention-grabbing title that describes your event in no more than 8-10 sentences. It’s the first thing that your readers will see, so make sure it grabs their attention so they want to continue reading.
Lead – This is the first paragraph of your event that summarises what it will be. Be sure to answer all five W’s: Who, What? Where, When and Why.
Body – This section will provide more details about your event, such as the type of food that will be served and if any live entertainment will be provided. Include any specials you have for that evening. Include background information about your restaurant, why it was started, and your menu.
Publish date – Include the date that you would like your release published.
Boilerplate – This is a brief description of your restaurant (usually a paragraph) that makes it easier for the reporter write about it.
Contact information – Include your name, email address, phone number, website address and restaurant name to make it easy for the reporter contact you for further information.
(For more tips on writing a press release, and a free downloadable template, FirstSmallBusiness.com has you covered.) Once your release is complete, you will need to send it to the local media. This includes newspapers and TV stations.
Flyers can also be used as a promotional tool. You can post them all over town. They can still be very effective in today’s digitally-evolving world. Here are some ideas.
Sponsored posts and ads can be run on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter if you have a marketing budget. Restaurants can also use more traditional channels, such as TV, radio and print, to their advantage. The downside to these ads is their time and cost. And unlike digital ads it’s difficult to measure and track effectiveness.
Keep an eye out for the prize
It can be difficult to plan a grand opening for a restaurant. If you do it well, you will see a quick ROI in the form a full house, positive publicity and happy customers who cannot wait to come back again.