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 Feb 08, 2019 — 4 min read
How to Stage a Restaurant Soft Opening

As a restaurant owner, you know you’re in a highly competitive industry. Currently there are more than 1 million restaurants in the U.S. , and more are opening daily. On top of that, it’s a consumer-driven industry, and with the amount of consumer-generated media available, word of mouth travels fast. Because of this, 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 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 they present 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 budget. 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:

Want to learn more about staging a soft opening? Download our guide.

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.


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