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3 Tips to Opening Your New Restaurant

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Starting a restaurant is such an exciting time, and never more so than on your opening day. It’s when you see your months of blood, sweat and tears come together to make the most crucial first impression. Most venues only get one shot, so it’s imperative to make it count.

Once you’ve nailed down a great location, sorted your point of sale system, hired staff, and crafted a menu, it’s almost time for you to open up to the public.

While this is an exciting time, many restaurateurs wonder how to open a restaurant correctly. And it’s a good idea to take your time when opening your restaurant – having a smooth, highly publicised grand opening can help you succeed right out of the gate.

So if you’re starting a restaurant, and you’re almost ready for your grand opening, here are 3 helpful tips that can help you avoid common mistakes and ensure your opening day goes off without a hitch.

1. Begin with a soft opening

If your grand opening is the first time your employees and kitchen staff are put through their paces, you risk making silly mistakes that could cost you regular customers. Even the best restaurant staff are going to make mistakes while they get used to their new environment – so it’s best to get them familiarised with it in a more low-stress way.

The best way to do this is with a “friends-and-family” soft opening. Invite your family members and your closest friends to come to your restaurant a few days before the grand opening. This allows your staff to become more comfortable with their new workplace, and reduce the chances of them making mistakes during your official grand opening.

This also gives you a chance to see how you feel while managing workers, and can set your expectations for the grand opening. In addition, if your friends and family members enjoy their food and are satisfied with the service, they’re sure to recommend your restaurant to others – which can help you build up a client base more quickly.

2. Schedule extra staff

Waiting times are the single most important factor in determining customer satisfaction. Even if the atmosphere of your restaurant is exquisite, the food delightful, and the servers friendly, potential customers will be turned off if they have to wait a long time for their food. It’s an unfortunate fact, but it’s true.

That’s why the first impressions during your first few days of business are so important – and why you should have extra staff scheduled, even if you think you may not need them.

During your grand opening, and through the following days, you should schedule additional cooks, dishwashers, busboys, servers – all the staff required to ensure that wait times are reasonable. Even if you don’t end up needing the additional staff, it’s a good idea to have them on-hand, just in case.

Then, over the first several weeks that your venue is in operation, you can use data from your restaurant POS system to get a better idea of how many employees you’ll need every day during regular business hours, and you can change staff schedules accordingly.

3. Promote your grand opening in the community

To have a great grand opening, you want your restaurant to be totally packed – and if you can get media and press coverage, you’ll be able to enjoy quite a bit of publicity that will help you gain and maintain a regular customer base.

Because of this, you should promote the opening of your restaurant however you can. Here are some tips on publicising and promoting your grand opening:

  • Use social media to promote the opening day of your restaurant, and offer discounts to followers who attend. Instagram is widely used by all reputable venues so use this platform to create a countdown with creative pics to garner interest in the opening and a sense of anticipation among locals.
  • Contact local newspapers & hospitality publications, news networks, radio hosts, food bloggers, and food reviewers. Invite them to the grand opening – and offer them a free meal.
  • Hire a professional photographer to capture promotional photos you can use on your website and on social media.
  • Advertise in local papers and magazines.
  • Put up flyers and posters all around your city and neighbourhood – sometimes, the most old-fashioned advertising is the most effective!
  • Monitor websites such as Yelp and food blogs after your grand opening so you can respond to positive (or negative) feedback quickly.
  • Follow up with guests and ask for their honest feedback. If you collected email addresses or other contact information from your guests, you can send them surveys and questionnaires that can help inform your business strategy.
  • Consider expanding your grand opening into a weeklong event! If you offer a variety of special promotions and discounts during this time, you can gain more customers and enjoy more word-of-mouth advertising!

Your grand opening is a critical part of your overall restaurant strategy. If it goes well, your opening day can help you rapidly gain a customer base, and succeed in the competitive world of hospitality.

So follow these tips – start with a soft opening, ensure you have enough staff for the big day, and promote it aggressively.

And for more helpful tips and articles about the hospitality industry, visit the Impos blog today! With easy-to-implement strategies, expert advice, and a deep knowledge of the restaurant industry, Impos can provide you with valuable information that can ensure the success of your business.