The Ultimate Restaurant Grand Opening Checklist

To help you prepare for your grand opening, take a look at our restaurant grand opening checklist, along with a few other to-dos and must-haves.

The foodservice industry is characterized by cutthroat competition. If you don’t make a good impression when opening a restaurant, you might not reach the break-even point. This means having a great menu concept, great ambiance and great customer service, especially on the day of your grand opening.

A big part of your success depends on online reviews and word-of-mouth marketing. What do you want potential customers saying about your restaurant after the grand opening? What can you do to ensure that customers flood your restaurant after the initial launch? To help you prepare, take a look at our restaurant grand opening checklist, along with a few other to-dos and must-haves before you open.

1. The Basics

Being a restaurateur is not all about coming up with menus. Besides the menu concept and your clientele base, have these preliminary items ready before the official opening day:

  • Lease contract

  • Finances to handle initial operations and unexpected costs

  • Insurance

  • Foodservice permits

  • Location analysis

  • Liquor license

  • Awesome staff

2. An Optimized Website

You should set up a website as soon as you conceive the idea of opening a restaurant. If you are constructing a new site, don’t wait until the restaurant is finished to open a blog. You’ll want your brand name to appear in local searches for the best restaurants right away.

Note, building web traffic does not happen overnight. Your site should be up and running long before the grand opening ceremony. The vast majority of diners today use smartphones to look for places to eat. They base their searches on the type of cuisine and, most importantly, the location. If someone wants a vegan restaurant, they can phrase the search as ‘best vegan restaurant in (location)’. Focus on optimizing your site for the locality.

3. A Definite Restaurant Concept

By the time you reach the grand opening stage, your restaurant should already have a solid concept based on prevailing dining trends, including a well-designed menu and the specific type of foodservice you’ll be offering. There shouldn’t be any confusion about whether you’ll provide delivery options, whether your restaurant is a fast-food establishment or a casual diner, or whether you’ll have vegan/vegetarian dishes on the menu. While you should remain consistent and commit to a definite concept, think about diversifying your recipes to cater to as many different types of diners as possible.

4. Furnishings and Supplies

The type of restaurant equipment you need depends on the type of foodservice you’ll be offering. Make sure that every part of the restaurant is furnished, from the front entrance to the seating area and the kitchen. Examples of basic items to have in place are:

restaurant grand opening checklist

  • Tables and chairs

  • Commercial ovens, deep fryer, grill, microwave, steam table, food warmers, etc.  

  • Refrigerator

  • Sinks

  • Dish cabinets and dishwasher

  • Cutlery and dinnerware

  • Sound system

  • Cleaning supplies

5. Marketing Checklist

Marketing the grand opening of a restaurant goes beyond distributing posters and flyers in town. Radio and TV broadcasts may help but, in this digital era, their impact is limited. There are plenty of other ways you can market your new restaurant:

  • Offer promotional prizes through social media contests

  • Network with local business owners

  • Support a good cause

  • Work with social media influencers

  • Post attractive images of recipes and dining areas on social media

6. Create a Supreme Business Plan

How will you gain any credibility in the eyes of investors and business partners if you don’t have a business plan? The business plan should be a roadmap for your restaurant showing the market analysis and describing your products and services. The business plan could also include a strategy for hosting a soft opening for your restaurant. It should also provide financials, including a detailed summary of the revenue you anticipate having earned by the end of the year. It takes time to create an all-encompassing business plan, so start early.

A concrete restaurant grand opening checklist might be a pain to create now but it pays off in the long run. You can use it to improve your marketing campaign, get more positive reviews, and host a successful soft opening. Make sure your restaurant has the right tools to outpace your competition, keep customers happy and operate within a budget. Synuma has those tools. Contact us today to get help preparing for your grand opening!