How to Stage a Restaurant Soft Opening

How to Stage a Restaurant Soft Opening
Thinking about a test-run before the grand opening of your new restaurant? Here are a few things you should know.
by Mary Hohn Mar 22, 2024 — 4 min read
How to Stage a Restaurant Soft Opening

Competition in the restaurant industry is fierce and isn’t letting up soon. Nearly half (45%) of surveyed owners were bracing for a more intensely competitive landscape this year compared to last. New restaurants open every day. It’s a consumer-powered industry. Combine that with the proliferation of social media, and that means word of mouth travels fast. All of this adds up to an undeniable truth: Restaurant owners are under more pressure than ever to make a good first impression when they open their doors.

Considering the amount of pressure on a restaurant’s grand opening, many restaurateurs are adopting the soft opening model. A soft opening allows you to test your concept, your food, and your service with a limited number of people before you open to the general public.

Advantages of a soft opening

Regardless of your restaurant type, a soft opening can help set you up for success on your grand opening day. Below are the key benefits of hosting a soft opening:

What are some drawbacks to a soft opening?

In an ideal scenario, you have the opportunity to host a soft opening, but it presents some drawbacks, including:

Thinking about the optimal soft-opening menu

When thinking about what to serve at your soft opening, there are a few factors to consider. First, you should think of the menu as a preview of your larger menu and focus on a simple, limited menu. This also helps to conserve time and money. And although you want to keep your menu limited, make sure it’s a diverse offering and includes some of your unique dishes; this will make your restaurant stand out and leave guests wanting to try more.

Creating a pricing strategy

An important factor to consider is what to charge at your soft opening events. You have a few options:

Planning and hosting a soft opening

As part of a soft opening, there are three distinct phases to consider:

Tips for success

To make sure your soft opening runs as smoothly as possible, we recommend the following tips:


Mary Hohn
Mary Hohn writes for Square, where she covers topics that affect business owners — from starting a business to growing a business — and the tools and technology that help them succeed.


Keep Reading

Tell us a little more about yourself to gain access to the resource.

i Enter your first name.
i Enter your last name.
i Enter a valid email.
i Enter a valid phone number.
i Enter your company name.
i Select estimated annual revenue.
i This field is required.

Thank you!
Check your email for your resource.

Results for

Based on your region, we recommend viewing our website in:

Continue to ->