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8 Ways to Add Excitement to Your Restaurant’s Grand Opening

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You’ve poured your literal blood, sweat and tears into this new venture, with a carefully crafted menu, restaurant decor and service to match. Now it’s time to introduce your new journey to the world.

Setting up a grand opening banner and spreading the word through your friends won’t be enough to launch a business in this day and age successfully. You’ll need to hit social media and create an exciting grand opening people won’t be able to help but attend. Here are eight ways to add excitement to your restaurant’s grand opening.

1. Hire Live Entertainment 

No matter your budget, you should be able to find some great live entertainment to wow your customers. You could support a local artist or band — they get a gig and food and you have music for the evening. Comedians are also a fun draw and unique for a restaurant opening.

2. Host a Giveaway

If there’s anything humans can agree on, it’s the appeal of free stuff. Hosting a giveaway is an ideal way to market your opening night and bring new customers in the door. However, you must ensure the prize is genuinely worth coming out to win. 

Research your target audience to determine the best draw for them within your budget. When you’re stumped for ideas or your budget is minuscule, consider offering free food for the winner for a certain amount of time, like a week or month.

3. Raise Money for Charity

Work with your staff to brainstorm charities that match your restaurant’s aesthetic or goals or one that’s deeply personal to you. For example, a sports bar and restaurant could partner with Every Kid Sports and a family eatery could sponsor Save the Children. You can help out an amazing and deserving cause and generate goodwill with the community. At the end of the night, you can donate a certain percentage of the proceeds to your chosen charity.

4. Start With a Bang

What could make your event more unforgettable than a fireworks display? If you have the space and the budget, go for it. Just remember, a short light show can quickly become dangerous when you haven’t taken the proper precautions.

Set your fireworks on a flat surface away from guests and don’t light too many at once. You should also research to see if you need permits and alert the fire department. Another option is to call in a pro to set off a display for you. A firework show at the end of the evening is definitely out-of-the-box thinking and will wow your guests, leaving them wanting more.

5. Hold a Competition

Instead of giving away free prizes, inspire your guests to work for them in a competition of your choice. Popular options include eating contests or game tournaments. You’ll need to base the task on the style of restaurant you’re opening — a beer pong tournament won’t work for a fine dining restaurant but could work great for a pub.

6. Throw a Holiday Extravaganza

If your grand opening is close to a major holiday, go all out with a themed party. For Halloween, offer discounts to anyone who dresses in costume and add spooky drink choices to the menu. At Christmastime, you could provide free hot drinks to anyone who’ll sing a few bars of a carol and family restaurants could offer pictures with Santa. New Year would be the perfect time to set off those fireworks you had your eye on.

7. Add Fun Games to the Entertainment

If you want to turn a simple meal at a restaurant into an event, you need to amp up the entertainment. You could hire musicians for the evening, which is fun but doesn’t require any involvement from your guests. Get them up out of their seats and buying drinks and more appetizers the whole night long. 

If it’s warm out and you have outdoor space, set up a variety of activities like horseshoes, ladder toss or cornhole. Indoor games could involve a trivia night or a game show customers can enter to play. Who knows, your games may be such a big hit you could bring them back once a month or more frequently to encourage repeat traffic.

8. Offer an Exclusive Tasting Menu

Exclusivity is both a great marketing tactic and a way to get people to try a variety of your food in one visit. Show off your terrific menu by making platters of mini versions to serve your customers at the grand opening. They get a special one-time-only treat and you get more of your dishes in front of guests. Another option is to offer complimentary appetizer samplers with the purchase of a meal.

Host an Evening Your Guests Can’t Forget

Once you’ve drawn your first customers in with your social media skills and other marketing efforts, you need to get them in the door and keep them coming back. Your grand opening should deliver excitement and entertainment, but you also need the food, decor and service to back it up. Try out these eight techniques to help make your restaurant unforgettable.

Author Bio: Oscar Collins is the managing editor at Modded, where he writes about food, fitness and more. Follow him on Twitter @TModded for frequent updates of his work.

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