If you are new to the restaurant business you probably have a lot of unanswered questions. No matter how ready you feel for the big day when you finally open your doors to the public, you may not realize that you actually have a lot more work to do.
You will be competing with huge franchises as well as small family-owned restaurants that have been around for years and have a strong reputation.
There is nothing wrong with being too prepared. Here is a simple guide to being ready for your restaurant's grand opening.
Make Sure That You Have Well-Practiced Chefs and Cooks
Nothing is worse than having multiple individuals in your kitchen that have their own cooking styles and habits. The minute your chefs and line cooks step into your restaurant, they should have a strong understanding that the food will be prepared to your liking and that everyone must prepare it the exact same way.
Consistency with your food keeps people coming back because they expect to get the dish they loved the time before. If there are any flaws or changes, the patron will notice and most likely they won't return. Your cooks and chefs should be well-versed in the recipes, serving sizes, cooking styles, and flavors of the dishes on your menu, and should be tested until there is consistency across the board.
Prep Your Servers, Bartenders, and Hosts
Your hosts should have a general idea of what food you serve and certain menu items to suggest to guests, especially appetizers. Simply by mentioning that the patron would love a certain dish will most likely result in more sales. Your servers should not only be able to suggest dishes, they should also know: what their favorite items are, what all of the ingredients are (in case of food allergies), and be able to suggest a drink that would go great with the meal.
Your bartenders need to take it one step further. They need to know a lot of information about your specialty drinks and wines. Knowledge of good wines means selling more expensive wines by the glass and bottle, which results in much higher revenue. Sales from the bar can be most lucrative.
Lastly, make sure that all of your staff works together and helps each guest individually.
Marketing is Key
Not only do you need to know how to market your restaurant, but you also need to know where and who to market to. Most likely there is a magazine or newspaper in your town that features certain restaurants, especially if they are asked to come to your grand opening and be a special guest.
Marketing for others will create allies and will greatly help your reputation just by word of mouth. Know what kind of crowd you want to market to and what part of town would be the best to reach out to (at least in the beginning).
Plan a "Soft Opening"
Soft openings are a great way to bring attention and new guests to your restaurant. The idea is to have a special event before you open your doors to the general public for those individuals that helped your restaurant in some way or will be able to help your restaurant in the future. This includes wine reps, liquor reps, important figures or officials in your city, journalists, and family members of your employees.
Family members will be the most likely to bring in more guests with them the next time they come and journalists will be grateful and willing to write you a wonderful review.
An event like this also allows you to work out last minute kinks with your food or presentation (even though there really shouldn't be any at this point) and make your staff feel more comfortable about the big day.
Plan Future Events
Other than your soft opening, your grand opening is your first opportunity to market your restaurant even more. Planning events that will be taking place at your restaurant in the near future will prompt guests to make plans to return.
Some ideas for this include hosting a wine dinner, where your food is paired with some of your delicious wines; having a food tasting where guests can try small samples of certain items (drinks not included so you can make a profit); and offering to cater private events at a discounted rate to guests that plan to book their events before a certain date.
- Make sure to have a take-home menu for guests, starting with your soft opening. They need to be able to study your menu before returning, and it will allow them to work up a craving for something new.
- Plan events that will make guests feel like it is free, but where you are making some kind of profit. Offer free food with a cash bar or a few free drinks with the purchase of a meal.
- Have a food tasting with your entire staff so that describing the items is a breeze for them.
- Introducing your head chef and managers to guests will make them feel important, and they will want to become regulars at your establishment.