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8 Ways to Spice Up Your Restaurant’s Grand Opening

After days and months of planning and preparation, it is finally time for your restaurant’s grand opening. How can you spice up your launch to get diners in the door — and eager to return?

These eight ideas are worth trying for a celebratory opening you, your staff and your customers will remember for a long time. 

Hold a Soft Opening

A widely-cited 2005 study from Ohio State University says 60% of restaurants fail within the first years, while 80% close in under five years. Avoid becoming another statistic by holding a soft opening — a surefire way to start out on the right foot.

A soft opening creates excitement about your eatery. It also allows you to hone in on your operations and work out the kinks before the grand opening. Soft openings prepare you and your staff with vital customer service experience in a simulated environment.

Ask for feedback on your menu and business concept from guests you’ve invited, such as family, friends and vendors. This is also an ideal time to determine what needs to change on the floor and in the kitchen and ensure the dining room’s layout makes sense.

Support a Cause

People are eager to give back. Supporting a special cause during your restaurant’s launch is an effective way to welcome and build your customer base. 

Consider fundraising for a local charity — maybe donate part of each meal ticket, allow customers to choose their own donation amount or hold a raffle with prizes. For instance, you can offer discounted or free meals during their next visit or promotional merchandise.

Partnering with various organizations doesn’t have to be a one-time occurrence, either. You can fundraise for a charitable cause long-term, making a positive impact and establishing your restaurant as a valuable addition to the community. 

Partner With Local Businesses

As you join the local community, why not partner with nearby businesses? You and another company can mutually benefit from the publicity of them showing up to your grand opening. 

For example, does your restaurant have a retro vibe, or is it a casual sports bar? Why not rent a classic car from a car rental company and park it out front? A rental could cost $1,500 to $4,000 per day for display use, depending on where you rent from. It could be an ideal photo op for car enthusiasts visiting your eatery.

Offer Freebies and Discounts

Everyone enjoys free food and discounts when going out to eat. Why not offer customers freebies for attending your grand opening? Send coupons in the mail for discounted lunch or dinner during the first week.

Once diners show up, you could give them a complimentary coupon for a free meal, valid for one month after their first visit. They may even bring others back with them. A drink on the house is another idea to celebrate your restaurant’s launch.

Branded merchandise — t-shirts, hats, keychains, stickers and tote bags — are also fun freebies to promote your business.

Invite Influencers

Word of mouth is still one of the best ways to grow your eatery’s customer base. Get your restaurant noticed on opening day by asking for an influencer’s help. A renowned celebrity might be out of your budget, but how about inviting the mayor, local sports teams or news broadcasters? 

Influencers with an impressive online following — like photographers, local food critics and enthusiastic foodies — can positively impact your first week by posting a photo, video or good review on their social media or blog. 

Ensure your restaurant is ready for a photo op with a red carpet and branded backdrop, adequate lighting and appealing dinnerware. Consider using colored dishes to stand out in photographs. You can then make your restaurant easier to find by creating a unique hashtag and encouraging patrons to tag your establishment in posts. 

Hire Entertainment

Turn your restaurant’s grand opening into a party with live entertainment. Depending on the type of restaurant, you might hire a local band to bring the roof down or a solo pianist for relaxing background music. If available, have musicians set up on your restaurant’s outdoor patio.

The perfect combination of food and music will help your establishment make the best first impression possible. String lights over the patio, dim indoor lighting and create an exciting dining experience everyone will love.

Advertise With a Banner

Let people know you’ve officially opened by hanging a legible banner outside your establishment. You’ll want to select a clear font in a color people can read when they drive by. 

A banner is an opportunity to enhance your marketing game by customizing the colors and logo to match your brand. 

Since many restaurant owners keep banners up for a few weeks after opening, you’ll want to select a durable, high-quality material, like vinyl or mesh. Work with a professional designer or design and print a personalized banner yourself using an online application.

Hand Out Bounceback Offers

A bounceback offer is an effective way to get diners to eat at your restaurant at different times. For example, suppose you gave your morning coffee shop customers a receipt with an offer for another beverage the same day. They are more inclined to redeem the offer in the afternoon when they need a pick-me-up.

If lunch hours or weekends are your busiest times, offer a bounceback offer for happy hour or dinner during the week. Nearly four in 10 customers would dine at a restaurant with a discount during quieter weekdays.

Launch Your Restaurant With a Bang

If you want your restaurant business to succeed, you must garner plenty of attention and offer something unique to customers. Fortunately, there are several ways to spice up your restaurant’s grand opening — it just takes a little thoughtfulness and creativity. 

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