Restaurant Grand Opening
Every restaurant wants to create brand awareness and jumpstart the business with its grand opening, but you will find many different ways how restaurant owners try to make a splash. Grand opening strategies can vary depending on types of cuisine, price ranges, targeted customers and time of year, but all opening events have similar goals: introducing restaurants to the community, generating media attention, impressing targeted clientele and persuading people to choose the restaurants for regular dining, catering jobs or celebratory special occasions.
Developing a grand opening strategy requires setting goals, developing a budget, advertising the event and fine-tuning kitchen and service capabilities so that the staff can handle anticipated crowds and serve high-quality food in pleasant surroundings. It needs several months to be planned properly so that all the right pieces are in place in time. That means it will overlap with the actual preparation, design and construction stage of the restaurant so you should plan it out carefully or delegate it to someone experienced in events.
- Typical marketing efforts concentrate on people living within a three-mile radius.
- Send special invitations to local celebrities, respected culinary figures and media representatives to generate favorable publicity.
- Choose a date that allows enough time to get all the necessary permits, finish construction and train staff. Planners should avoid choosing dates that fall on holidays or conflict with other popular events.
- Try to arrange cooperative arrangements with local groups, theaters, concert venues or business neighbors. Pooled advertising efforts increase the audience, lower advertising costs and inspire greater community involvement.
Choose a Soft Opening or Grand Media Event
Many restaurant owners choose soft openings that allow their staffs to transition to full operational capacity and work out any problems before staging highly visible events. Upscale restaurants might hold private tasting events before settling on final menu choices, and this strategy allows restaurants with large capital investments to fine-tune menus, décor and service details.
- Chefs need experience and time to perfect their ordering, plating and food-holding techniques.
- Servers, bartenders, hosts and sommeliers get comfortable with the menu and where everything is located.
- Take detailed notes during this breaking-in period to get everyone working together to create smooth dining experiences for customers.
Grand openings might include entertainment, special incentives, outdoor dining, samples of cuisine and free giveaways. The event’s success will depend on hiring experienced staff and training them well. Planning should always count on more people than expected, and rehearsals often fail to prepare inexperienced staff to deal with packed restaurants and influential guests.
Engage Vendor Allies and Meet Competitors
Owners should set tentative dates and check with important guests to see if these dates work for most people. During the interim, consider joining local business groups and community organizations.
- Assemble and distribute professional press kits that include sample menus, chef biographies, the owner’s culinary philosophy and a well-written press release to publicize the event.
- Offer private tours and interviews to influential media figures.
- Invite VIP guests, media representatives, competitors, neighborhood organizations and carefully selected people from the preferred-customer demographic profile.
- Make guests feel privileged and special from the beginning and try to maintain the effort to persuade people to become regular patrons.
Create a Website and Advertising Strategy
Local diners increasingly get information about restaurants online, so develop a website and online marketing strategy to brand the restaurant and establish professional authority.
- Grand openings should try to focus on elements that make restaurants different from other eateries.
- People expect more during grand opening events, so plan carefully to fulfill the highest expectations.
- Try to avoid media extravaganzas that wander too far from the basic dining concept. Openings should introduce customers to the everyday benefits of dining at new restaurants.
Extra entertainment, decorations and excitement help to draw crowds, but good food and attentive service make people regular customers. Arrange a special toast, ribbon-cutting ceremony or celebrity visit to create a memorable opening. Offer discounts to local businesses that are willing to distribute business cards, display posters or hand out fliers. A successful event will generate word-of-mouth advertising, generate media publicity and build a base of potential customers.