7 Restaurant Grand Opening Ideas That Work

You’ve done months of work planning your restaurant, creating menus, hiring staff – it’s finally time for the grand opening of your restaurant! A restaurant grand opening is an exciting event, and a successful one can help start your restaurant off on the right foot.

When planning a grand opening, you’ll want to the best restaurant grand opening ideas to make sure you draw a good crowd to generate buzz. Attracting customers to your grand opening will kick off your future marketing strategies and begin growing your client base. 

restaurant grand opening ideas

It’s vital that you not only get people to come to the grand opening of your restaurant, but that they have a good time. This means quality service as well as some level of excitement to draw them in and get them interested in coming back. 

When planning your grand opening, focus on attracting a crowd as well as preparing for that crowd. Use these grand opening ideas to plan how to draw in customers, but be sure to thoroughly plan so that the event runs smoothly! 

Unique Grand Opening Ideas for Restaurants

Invite the Community

Use Live Entertainment

Offer Free or Discounted Incentives

Partner with a Charity

Invite Influencers

Offer a Tasting Menu

Start with a Soft Opening

Invite the Community

Your local community is most likely to become your customer base, so invite them to the grand opening to put your restaurant on their radar! Print flyers to share around the local area to raise awareness about the event or post on local social media pages on platforms like NextDoor and Facebook. 

When you consider the local community, you should also consider local businesses. Inviting your business neighbors starts a good relationship with other small business owners and can forge connections for future events. The other businesses in your area should be your allies, so it’s a good idea to invite them to the grand opening to start off strong. Inviting them directly, whether in person or through a letter or even email, is a nice personal touch.

Use Live Entertainment

Live entertainment can be a huge draw to attract customers to your grand opening. They may come for the entertainment, but return because they loved the service, food, or all-around aesthetic of your restaurant!

While live entertainment can be great, it can also be expensive to book a popular band, DJ, or artist. If you have any connections, use them to book entertainment that won’t hurt your business financially. 

It’s also important that live entertainment doesn’t get too loud. You don’t want to make your neighbors angry or have the authorities come with a noise complaint on your first day. 

That being said, live entertainment is an exciting way to attract customers to your first event. 

Offer Free or Discounted Incentives

Most grand openings offer some incentive for customers in the form of giveaways, discounts, or specials. Offering free or discounted menu items or beverages can get more customers through the door. They’ll come for the special promotions but stay or return because they had a great experience or loved the food and the restaurant itself! 

Be conscientious when planning the discounts or giveaways for your grand opening. You don’t want to give too much away and lose money. Giving away or offering discounts on lower priced items, like drinks, may encourage people to order other items. 

You should also be thoroughly prepared inventory-wise. If you’re offering free french fries with any entree, for example, make sure you stock up on fries. Inventory should be carefully planned in general, since the goal is to have a large crowd. Running out of supplies may disappoint customers when your grand opening should wow them. 

Partner with a Charity

Partner with a local charity for your grand opening to start off on the right foot in your community and gain extra good press. Supporting a local charity can draw a larger crowd of people who support that organization or who prefer to spend money on businesses that work with charitable causes. This tactic helps your restaurant’s reputation and populates your grand opening event. 

Reach out to local charities whose mission aligns with your businesses values. Keep in mind that customers may associate your business with this movement in the future, so pick wisely. Supporting an overly political charity or issue could turn away different clientele in the future. Consider all perspectives to ensure that this partnership helps your business in the long run. 

Once you’ve found the right charity, figure out a percentage of sales that will go towards the organization, or some other way of supporting them through your grand opening. Then, ask the charity to help spread the word! An established nonprofit will likely have a wider network to draw a crowd for your grand opening. 

Invite Influencers

Another method to generate buzz around your restaurant grand opening is to invite influencers, food bloggers, or other members of the press. Inviting people with a following in the local food community can create more good press for your restaurant and get the word out about your opening.

Reach out to local food bloggers or food influencers and invite them to your grand opening. The idea is that they’ll come, have a great time, and post a picture or review on their blog, Instagram, or other social media. If they have a large following, their endorsement could bring more customers in the future. 

Some especially popular foodies may want something in return for a good review on their website or social media. Consider offering special deals or giveaways – if they have a large, loyal following online, it will be well worth it. You could also consider inviting influencers to a soft opening so that they can review your restaurant and promote the later grand opening. 

Offer a Tasting Menu

At upscale restaurants, a tasting menu is a serious dining experience. For a grand opening, however, you can simply offer smaller versions of your dishes so that customers can try more of the menu! Consider serving discounted food tapas-style so that visitors at your grand opening can try different items. 

People also may be more likely to spend more money this way, since they want to try more menu items and the price of many small dishes can add up. As always, be sure to price things correctly. Even with a discount, you want your grand opening to be profitable. 

Start with a Soft Opening

A soft opening is a great way to test out the operations of your restaurant before unveiling it to the world. Most restaurants opt for a soft opening first for this reason. Soft openings give your staff a test run, test out menu items on a smaller crowd, and give you a chance to troubleshoot any issues. 

Many restaurants host one or more soft openings before the grand opening. There are plenty of soft opening ideas to try out that can both test your restaurant and get people talking before the grand opening. 

How To Promote a Restaurant Grand Opening

Once you’ve planned your grand opening, how do you get people to come? Promoting your grand opening is vital to its success, as you need customers to populate it. There are plenty of ways to spread the word about your grand opening. 

Social Media

Social media is a great way to spread the word about your new restaurant. Well before your grand opening, you should already have set up your restaurant’s website and social profiles. Hopefully, you’ve already started to build a following online, although this is easier said than done. 

You can also create social media ads to promote the grand opening, but be cautious of your budget. Social ads can get expensive quickly, and without proper targeting they may end up being ineffective as well. If you want to use social media ads, learn how to create successful campaigns first or ask for help from a marketing agency. 

Another option to spread the word on social media is to ask friends, family, and others to share a flyer online about your grand opening. Word of mouth online can help you reach a larger audience than posting solely on your own account. 


Hanging flyers may be old school, but it’s low-cost and can be effective. Print brightly colored flyers sharing the date and time of your restaurant’s grand opening, its location, and other information like specials being offered, live entertainment, or the charity you’re partnering with. 

Hang the flyers around your area on telephone poles, on business’ bulletin boards, or wherever you see fit.

Influencer marketing

As we mentioned above, inviting local influencers or food bloggers can help spread the word about your grand opening. If they come to a soft opening, they can tell their followers about it and encourage them to attend the grand opening. If you don’t have a soft opening, you could simply ask them to promote the grand opening before they come. 


A marketing team can help spread the word about your grand opening, but you can also do some public relations on your own. Contact local newspapers, food reviewers, online publications, or other media to ask them to announce the grand opening of your restaurant. Even if you only hear back from a few media outlets, it can help garner more attention for your restaurant and its opening. 


It’s common to decorate for a grand opening with big signs or banners, balloons, and more. Set these up in advance, especially outside of your business, to let passersby know that your restaurant is hosting a grand opening soon! 

If you do hang a large banner announcing your grand opening, try to provide as much information as possible, especially the date. Any promotions or specials on display will help to draw a larger crowd. 

Invite Friends, Family, Vendors

Finally, spread word about your restaurant grand opening through classic word of mouth. Invite your friends and families, and ask them to spread the word as well. Ask staff to do the same.

Invite vendors or anyone who helped in the process of opening your restaurant. This can include food suppliers, contractors or builders, and other vendors. Not only does this show some appreciation for their help in the process of starting a restaurant, but it gets more people in the door! 

Grand Opening Tips for Restaurants

Use these restaurant grand opening ideas and promotions to get more people to come to your restaurant’s grand opening. Before the big day, be sure to consider a few other factors: 

  • Budget: How much can you spend on your grand opening? How much do you expect to make back? Be sure to budget for any discounts or freebies, as well as the cost of decorations and advertising for the grand opening.
  • Inventory: Make sure that you are fully prepared for the opening of your restaurant. Running low on supplies or menu items before the day is over will not look great and could result in bad customer experiences.
  • Staff: Ensure that your staff is fully trained and prepared for the grand opening. Consider a soft opening first to give them a trial run. If you’re expecting huge crowds, make sure your staff is aware and ready to handle them.
  • Return Offers: To keep the ball rolling after your grand opening, consider giving some return offer to those who come. Coupons with future deals will get customers to come back and start to create a loyal customer base. 

Once the grand opening of your restaurant finally comes around, try to enjoy the big day! Opening a restaurant takes a lot of work, so enjoy the success while also keeping everything running smoothly. 

Need help with marketing for your new restaurant’s grand opening? Contact Restaurant Clicks. We specialize in restaurant marketing, so our team has the experience to turn your restaurant business into a success.

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry. As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.