After you’ve put in months or even years making your dream of opening your own restaurant a reality, you’ve got to do better than just flipping the sign to, “Come In, We’re Open.” Whether you’re opening a small diner or the fanciest eatery in town, you need to plan your grand opening to give your restaurant the best chance of success possible.
It might seem impossible to add another task to the thousands you already have to do just to get your restaurant running, but it’s marketing efforts during your first few months of operation that can make or break your new venture. With that in mind, we’ve put together these restaurant grand opening ideas to get you thinking in the right direction.
1. Attract the Influencers
There’s no better way to get the buzz going about your new place than to invite the most influential people in town for a preview. Local politicians, news anchors, and business owners know plenty of people, so you want them talking about your new restaurant.
This is also a great time to invite local food critics. This might seem like a bit of a bold move. After all, what if they give your place a bad review? Don’t worry. In case you forgot, you’re opening this restaurant because you already know you’ve got great dining experiences to offer your customers. So let them know about it early!
2. Grand Opening Month
Throwing one giant party on the night you officially open puts a lot of stress on that event. On top of that, anyone who doesn’t make it to that party won’t have any particular incentive to try out your new restaurant. It’ll just be another place to get dinner, maybe. You can do better.
Instead of planning all of your special events on opening night, spread things out over the entire month. You can promote specials for first responders one week, teachers the next, and so on. You can even set up special nights for live entertainment and local media. Don’t forget to rotate your dinner specials throughout the month to encourage people to try your whole menu.
3. Social Media Countdowns that Matter
We’ve all seen companies counting down to some reveal on social media. But, have you ever noticed the difference between the ones you pay attention to and the ones you don’t? Here’s a hint: the ones you ignore are just putting up post after post of counting down days. There’s no excitement, and therefore, no engagement.
Instead of going with a bland countdown, keep things interesting by posting videos of various (and visually appealing) stages of construction and decoration. How about a breakdown of one of your soon-to-be signature dishes? Don’t forget to leave some mystery, though. If you leave them wanting more, they’ll have to show up to get the rest of the story.
4. Support Local Charities and Nonprofits
If you want to promote your new restaurant while helping out your community and building meaningful relationships, consider donating a portion of your grand opening proceeds to a local charity or nonprofit. For example, food banks and shelters can use donations year-round, and so can community theaters and art studios.
If you’re interested in this idea but don’t know where to start, why not ask one of your new influencer friends from #1? Politicians and media personalities always have good relationships with the local charities and can point you to the right people to talk to.
5. Food Challenge
Depending on the type of atmosphere you’re going for, a food challenge could be the perfect way for you to score some excellent word-of-mouth advertising. Typically, these challenges involve customers attempting to either eat a large amount of food in one sitting or take down an incredibly spicy dish.
Sometimes winners walk away with their food paid for, while others offer prizes like t-shirts (branded, of course). A quick internet search can get you started with the right amount of food or heat for your challenge. Don’t forget, the whole point of these challenges is for your customers to have fun so they’ll walk away talking about your restaurant. Keep it fun!
6. Grand Prize Giveaway
Another great way to encourage customers to visit your restaurant during your opening celebrations is to offer a prize. Put the word out that anyone who comes in on your official opening night will be eligible to win.
If this is going to draw customers in who weren’t going to come otherwise, the prize has to be good. For example, your new Greek restaurant could give away a Mediterranean cruise for two. You’ll definitely have to budget for a prize that big, but once you start promoting the giveaway, it should pay for itself.
7. The Grand Unveiling
Finally, nothing brings in a crowd like spectacle and theatrics. By keeping your sign out of view during its installation, you can build up a sense of suspense. If you play up the mystery during your social media countdown (see #3), you can generate a lot of interest just by withholding your restaurant’s name.
You’ll want to plan the big reveal well ahead of your opening night to allow plenty of time for your name to get out there. As for the unveiling itself, make sure to invite the news stations! Local media outlets love unveilings and supporting local businesses.
Give Your Restaurant the Attention It Deserves
National Signs can help your new restaurant come to life with custom sidewalk signs, awnings, illuminated channel letters, and more. You can even invite us inside to install digital menu boards or other custom interior signage. Whatever ideas you can dream up for your restaurant grand opening, we can help you accomplish them.
Contact us today to request a quote. We’re looking forward to your big unveiling!