We have been in the restaurant business for a long time and have made friends throughout. A couple of people we know have been opening restaurants over the past couple of weeks as they were delayed by the pandemic.
One key challenge those new restaurants faced, aside from the obvious, was coming up with creative opening events. Which got us thinking.
Could we come up with some actionable ideas for restaurant openings that don’t cost too much but still deliver the goods?
Setting up a popup experience close to opening day is a great way to prime the fire before the actual launch. Whether you do the whole popup restaurant thing or go for something more limited, making a noise and getting attention with a popup event of some kind can work.
Promote it, video it, invite influencers and other notables and you should create an appetite for the real launch.
Combining a soft launch with a charity fundraiser is a great way to raise awareness for your business and the cause you’re supporting. It’s also a way to generate positive PR, get your name out there and build relationships with locals.
Whether you donate some or all proceeds to charity, as long as the cause benefits significantly from the event, it’s a great way to introduce your new restaurant to the world.
Opening a restaurant by offering the chance for diners to learn how to cook signature dishes themselves is another useful idea. If your restaurant caters to a particular cuisine, this works even better.
Learning how to spin pizza dough, make a sizzling Chinese beef dish or an authentic goulash could build relationships, showcase your cuisine and engage people at the same time.
Tasting menus have been popular for years. Some restaurants have built their entire offering around them and do very well.
Incorporating a tasting night into a launch is an excellent way to advertise what you offer, gives customers a chance to try before they buy and provide a way for people to experiment with dishes they may not want to risk buying.
You could even keep these up once you’re up and running as they can be exceptionally popular!
Partner with local producers
Know an artisan cider or gin producer? Know someone who makes amazing cakes or puddings? Partner up to offer a special event combining the two businesses in one.
It’s another way to launch while also benefitting from another businesses’ reputation and offering something different. As long as you select a business that complements your offering, there is very little to go wrong!
Special guest or entertainment
If you know a local celebrity or can book a known entertainer, there are few better ways to launch a new venture. The bigger the name, the bigger the buzz.
Whether it’s an actor, band, singer, comedian or something else, giving them time in the spotlight will encourage them to sign up. Inviting press, social media influencers and the great and the good will benefit everyone.
Do you have any ideas for memorable restaurant launches?