Grand Opening Ideas for Restaurants: The Ultimate Guide

By Tiffany Mastropasqua - September 11, 2019

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Grand Opening Ideas for Restaurants: The Ultimate Guide
September 11, 2019 By Tiffany Mastropasqua

Grand Opening Ideas for Restaurants: The Ultimate Guide

Starting your own restaurant or buying a restaurant franchise is something to take great pride in. Your efforts have finally materialized and now it’s time to have a grand opening. Not sure where to start? This guide has all the resources you need to make a grand opening for a restaurant a smashing success.

Hosting a worthwhile restaurant grand opening can bring curiosity and excitement. Ideally, it is an opportunity to showcase your foodservice business to potential customers. You also want to create a network with local business people so you can form strategic partnerships.

Is this your first time opening a restaurant? Use these grand opening ideas for restaurants that will highlight noteworthy aspects of your service. Your guest will be enthused and that will generate the perfect ambience for your restaurant, setting you up for long-term success.

Marketing the Grand Opening

A proper grand opening needs a marketing plan. There are many creative marketing ideas for restaurants you can use to get ready for the big day. The first big marketing push involves creating awareness. You want the entire city to know about your restaurant. To reach a wide audience, implement the following tips:

1. Send Invitations

Before sending formal invitations, first, determine the people you want to see at the grand opening. You cannot invite everyone. You must narrow down the target audience. Think about guests who are more likely to get the word out. Here are some people you should include on the invitation list:

  • Family and friends

  • Business partners

  • Local officials (i.e. fire chief, police chief, police officers, etc.)

  • Local press

  • Politicians

  • Neighboring businesses

  • Company representatives

  • Vendors

  • Funders

  • Social media influencers

Make sure that the invited guests fit into your restaurant business. They should be in a position to bring value to the grand opening.

2. Advertise Locally

You have to be creative when making ads for the grand opening announcement. Use traditional means of advertising including billboards, flyers, and signage. Put them in strategic locations so they can generate leads from heavy foot traffic.

Apart from flyers, consider paper fans and balloons. Have the main theme and menus printed on these materials. Give uniforms to your employees and ask them to stand by the roadsides with banners. You can also advertise on the radio or in newspapers to help people remember your business in the future.

3. Create Media Kits

grand opening ideas for restaurants

One of the best ways to get your restaurant noticed is to be featured on local TV or in a major publication. Contact your local media and send a grand opening press release. Media houses will help you cover the grand opening, thereby gaining major exposure. By providing social proof, a press release can generate more sales.

To make it easier for the audience to learn about your business, focus on creating a menu that will actually sell. Highlight your menu with attractive photos. Be very careful with the dish names and meal descriptions. They should paint succulent and mouth-watering images in the customer’s mind. Also, a simple fact sheet about your restaurant will offer a great advantage as you prepare to open.

4. Partner with Well-Known Charity Organizations

Partnering with a charity is a great way to debut your restaurant. It also makes potential customers see that you care about their welfare. You may want to give out part of the proceeds to the local charity. Soft opening a restaurant with donations gives your business a more personal touch.

5. Special Offers and Free Perks

To attract more people, you have to find a special way to thank your guests. Have free drinks and dishes during the grand opening. Discounts and loyalty cards also work in your favor because they keep the customers coming back.

Everyone loves free perks. Free, clever restaurant promotions create a tangible excitement and can help you win over even the harshest critics. If you have unique dishes, free samples are enough to draw people. You can even have them distributed on sidewalks.

6. Social Media Campaigns

The day you come up with a restaurant idea is the day you should set up social media accounts. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest are free to use and easy to open. When you create a social media page be sure to post informative content on a regular basis.

As the grand opening approaches, post irresistible offers on social media to entice your followers. Another idea is to create a Facebook live event. Invite people to like your pages and join community groups on social platforms.

7. Create Email Buzz

In the social media world, a buzz can stretch beyond the audience you already know. With a solid email list, you can expand the scope of your business. Imagine those who receive your email sharing the same information with several friends.

While building an email list in the first place can be tough, the end results are immeasurable. You have to earn the trust of your subscribers by constantly sending useful information. To build a buzz about the upcoming restaurant grand opening, consider an email teaser campaign.

In a teaser campaign, you use your existing contacts to generate excitement about your dishes and chefs. If the campaign succeeds, the recipients are likely to spread the word even further.

8. Set up a Website

This is one of the grand opening ideas for restaurants you definitely shouldn't overlook. You might be surprised to know that most smaller, local restaurants don’t have a website. A website reinforces the legitimacy of your restaurant. Customers expect you to have an online site, not just a physical location.

When you create a website, test the load time and make sure your images are visible across a variety of devices. Create blog posts with captivating headlines and targeted keywords. Also, link to authoritative sources so you can draw online traffic.

9. Create an Online Review Generation Platform

These days, clients make purchasing decisions after consulting the internet. Your potential customers will want to know if other people love your food service. Before they place an order, they want to be sure of the quality of the meals.

A platform like Google My Business is a good start. Here, customers can have their most pressing questions answered. For instance, they want to know if you provide vegan diets or kid-friendly meals. These are some of the things your customers mention when they write reviews.

What Marketing the Grand Opening Means for Your Restaurant

The above grand opening marketing ideas can help you by:

  • Expanding your knowledge of the overall restaurant industry

  • Promoting sales and customer satisfaction

  • Soliciting customer feedback so you can make the right changes

  • Increasing your network base by collaborating with businesses in the community

  • Improving customer service and operational skills

  • Making it easier to hire and retain the best talent

  • Developing your strategic sales plan depending on your business objectives

Grand Opening Planning

All restaurant grand opening event ideas work when you plan ahead. Lack of planning is one of the many reasons restaurateurs fail as they enter the industry. You can avoid trouble by being prepared. This raises the question: how should you get ready for a restaurant grand opening?

1. Determine the Budget

The last thing you want is to overspend by throwing a lavish party. Only allocate funds to the most important aspects including:

  • Event supplies and decor

  • Invitations

  • Marketing

  • Discounts and freebies

To avoid splurging, drop unnecessary activities like ego-based or politically-driven marketing. To stay on track, you should be intimately aware of your target audience. Digital advertising is more likely to yield good results than traditional methods. Make sure that you have devoted all resources towards specific and well-defined applications.

2. Create an Effective Restaurant Menu

Wondering how to bring in more customers to a restaurant? Showcase your signature dishes in style! Before creating a menu, consider the size of your kitchen. A bigger kitchen can allow for an extensive range of dishes. Make sure that the menu has readable fonts. You can offer some appetizers as part of a soft opening a few days prior to the official opening. Entice pedestrians with treats and ask for feedback.

3. Have a Week-Long Ceremony

Getting a new business off the ground is tough work. Rather than hosting a one-day opening ceremony, you can extend it to a whole week. You probably think the initial launch is a minor detail but the truth is, promoting your business should be an ongoing activity.

You have to look for ways to bring diners to the door. An entire week offers the right opportunity for spreading the word. Just don't break an arm and leg trying to make it a successful occasion. Make sure you are sticking to the set budget.

4. Create a Calendar

As you pick a date (or week) for the grand opening, check the upcoming local events. You don’t want to compete for attention on this important promotional day. Consider making a detailed timeline of the soft opening occasions leading up to the grand opening.

Choose a date in advance and ensure that there are no holidays around your preferred time. The best time is one that appeals to the majority of your guests. Delegate tasks and give each team member a deadline and a checklist.

5. Hold Several Soft Opening Events

grand opening ideas for restaurants

For most businesses, the grand opening is the first time they open doors to the members of the public. You can kick things up a notch by inviting different guests to your soft opening event. A soft opening serves to test out what really works and what does not. Do it a few weeks before the official launching. It helps to spot the weaknesses of the waiters, menus, and chefs. You will also have a chance to see what pricing strategy best suits your business. If you do it right you'll have plenty of time to fix those issues before you finally open. Hold several of these events so you can collect enough feedback. 

Besides the soft opening, you can invite people to live entertainment at your restaurant. Be open to fundraisers and local charity events to boost your brand awareness.

6. Book Entertainment Early

If you want to create a memorable grand opening special entertainment will go a long way. Look for a local celebrity to honor the occasion. More people will be willing to attend if they can interact with a celebrity. Be sure to book their services in advance.

7. Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony

A ribbon-cutting ceremony is an integral part of promoting and opening your restaurant. During ribbon-cutting, you introduce your business plan to key leaders. It is imperative that you get acquainted with neighboring businesses. Contact the local Chamber of Commerce for a ribbon and scissors.

8. Use a Pre-Opening Checklist

Along with a definite budget, prepare your groundbreaking ceremony with this checklist:

  • Design invitations and make the guest list

  • Recruit and train the staff

  • Gather information about vendors and contractors

  • Set up promotional gifts and door prizes

  • Build press kits

  • Book catering

  • Decorate

  • Put up banners and signage

  • Clean  

  • Advertise on social media

  • Create an email list

  • Make a grand opening program

  • Contact VIP coordinators

  • Write Thank You notes

What Grand Opening Planning Means for Your Restaurant

By planning for the grand opening, you can:

  • Move the restaurant towards the groundbreaking launch more quickly

  • Keep up with the construction timeline and grand opening schedule

  • Track the progress of the site and address the punch list items

  • Set objectives for the restaurant and how to deliver them

  • Negotiate with the staff, entertainers, influencers, vendors, and contractors

  • See to it that the planning tools are implemented by the development crew

  • Plan for the support needs before the grand opening

  • Give accurate reports to the CDO

Post-Grand Opening and Ongoing Success

You have informed people about the location of your restaurant and they are now familiar with your offerings. However, there are still a few things you need to do once you open the restaurant.

Franchise Training

The next big step is training your employees and providing the necessary support. First, let the workers know what to expect from you. This means defining the work policy and creating an operations manual. In the process, the employees gain the skills they need to please your customers.

Sometimes, even the most qualified employees perform poorly because they don’t have the right training. Providing training after the grand opening gives the workers the potential to succeed. By the end of the training, your new hires should know their full responsibilities. From the hostess, waiters, and sous chef to the busboys, everyone needs to know how to operate the POS system. After training, distribute a checklist and let the employees give feedback.

Motivation and Feedback

Employee motivation is another important factor to consider. Your business will do well if you have a team of enthusiastic workers. There are many ways to motivate them, whether through rewarding hard work or offering professional coaching sessions. Arrange programs that will let them further their education by becoming certified. This shows that you are interested in their career development and it can help create a loyal and competent working crew.

As with human resource management, ensure that everyone gets the right resources for the job. Provide feedback mechanisms through which employees can comfortably express themselves. This can help you harness critical ideas that you need to improve your business.

What Franchise Training Means for Your Restaurant

  • It promotes effective communication in the workplace.

  • Training helps to determine who will be a good manager or supervisor.

  • Well-trained employees exhibit impeccable customer service.

  • It allows you to manage operational standards for the entire staff to ensure profitability.

  • Helps to manage overhead and ensure that everyone is productive.

  • It is a great opportunity to gather employee feedback.

  • Encourages an organized and communicative culture, making it easier to hire the right personnel.

  • Helps employees gain buy-in support from the leaders.

Bottom Line

By successfully hosting a worthwhile grand opening party, you can keep diners coming back for more. You might also attract customers from neighboring restaurants! Now that you have the best grand opening ideas for restaurants at your fingertips, make the event worth attending and create some memorable moments!