restaurant grand opening staff with sign

You’ve got the food and the concept nailed down to a T. You’ve hired the best staff around and you’re all ready to launch your perfectly developed new restaurant—the only thing standing in the way of your concept becoming as successful as you know it can be is a killer restaurant grand opening. While to some it might just seem like nothing more than a fun-filled party, restaurant grand openings are an important restaurant marketing strategy that can make or break early success.

Bottom line: it’s important to stand out from the competition and draw a big crowd.

Here are a few restaurant grand opening ideas that will get you started off on the right foot.

1- Partner with a Charity

Including a charitable element in your grand opening celebrations will not only draw people who like to spend their dollars to support good causes, but it will help you to build relationships within the community. Chron recommends choosing “an organization that is special to your business or to your personal life and [making] the story part of your proportional materials.” The lasting effect will be a positive reputation among those who also support your cause.

restaurant grand opening sign

Plus, who doesn’t want to support a charitable local business?

2- Offer Free Perks

People love free things, simple as that. Whether it’s complimentary hors devours, a drink on the house, or some swag (branded sunglasses are all the rage these days), having something given to them—especially if it’s something not everyone can get—makes people feel special and develop positive associations with your restaurant and brand. Plus, anytime they toss your shades on, they’ll be reminded of your restaurant and how hungry they just so happen to be for your food at that particular moment.

waitress tying on her apron

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3- Have Multiple Events

Having multiple events leading up to the grand opening is important when it comes to generating a buzz. Host a friends and family night to thank your staff for all of their hard-working leading up to this important moment. Also consider having a private reception for journalists and other local business owners, for example, that includes a tour of your facility and sends them home with a menu card. These events could even count as restaurant soft launches, too!

Having a few smaller events means that you don’t have to worry about covering it all in one and can tailor the smaller ones to the particular crowd you’re hosting and make them feel extra special.

Bottom line: it's important to stand out from the competition and draw a big crowd.Click To Tweet

4- Invite Influencers

Influencers come in a variety of forms. There are, of course, local and regional social media influencers who should definitely get an invite to your grand opening. One Tweet or Instagram post from them can inspire hundreds of people to make their way to your new establishment once the doors are officially open.

But there’s another, more analog approach to be taken, too. Sold Out Tonight, a marketing blog for restaurants recommends inviting people like “local politicians, local school principals, the police chief, and the fire chief… these people are often popular networkers and they can spread valuable word-of-mouth.” They recommend inviting groups that are particularly aligned with the cuisine you offer, which means sending invitations to local Italian clubs if your restaurant is a pasta place, for example.

What restaurant grand opening ideas have you tried that have been a success?

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Cinnamon hails from the prairie lands of North Dakota, has been told that she thinks too much, and possesses an enthusiasm for enthusiasm. In a previous life, she paid the bills by serving and bartending throughout college and graduate school. She currently splits her time between Minneapolis and Latin America with her dog, Gus, at her side.