A Smooth Start: Soft Opening Tips for Restaurant Newbies

Launching a restaurant with a soft opening can incredibly motivate any restaurant owner. It’s that exciting moment when all your hard work and dreams come together, and you can reveal your culinary masterpiece to the world.

Out of all the ways you can start your restaurant, a soft opening can be a great choice. It’s like a practice round that helps ensure your restaurant is fully prepared for the big day.

To learn more about the ins and outs of a restaurant’s soft opening and how to make it a success, keep reading this article. Let’s dive in and get your restaurant journey off to a great start!

What is a Soft Opening?

What is a Soft Opening?
What is a Soft Opening?

A soft opening, also known as a soft launch, is a pre-opening phase for a new restaurant. It’s a trial run before your grand opening. During a soft opening, you invite a select group of guests to dine in your restaurant. It’s an opportunity to test your operations, service, and menu.

This controlled environment allows you to identify and address any issues before your grand opening.

Why Have a Soft Opening?

Why Have a Soft Opening?
Why Have a Soft Opening?

A soft opening serves as an exclusive and invite-only event for a restaurant, creating a unique and intimate atmosphere. This concept is particularly beneficial for local businesses.

The primary reason to have a soft opening is to obtain constructive feedback. By inviting a select group of guests, you create a comfortable environment where you can identify any operational issues and areas that may need improvement before the grand opening.

This feedback loop ensures that when the big day comes, your restaurant is fully prepared, providing the best possible experience to all your customers.

How to Prepare for Your Soft Opening

Now that we’ve grasped the concept of a soft opening let’s delve into the preparations required. Here are the steps to effectively execute a restaurant’s soft opening:

Build an invitation list

Social Media Influencers
Social Media Influencers

To ensure a successful restaurant grand opening, compile a guest list that includes close friends, family, local food bloggers, critics, social media influencers, and local business owners. Their presence will make your event memorable and help boost your restaurant’s reputation.

Decide how many days you’ll run your soft opening

A Woman Run Her Soft Opening
A Woman Runs Her Soft Opening

Usually, a soft opening phase extends over a period of 3 to 7 days. This span of time is strategically chosen to provide a sufficient window for collecting valuable data and feedback from early customers.

It enables you to assess various aspects of your operation, identify areas for improvement, and fine-tune your processes, ensuring that your official opening is a well-prepared and successful launch.

Create a menu or plan for your soft opening

Menu Pricing
Menu Pricing

Optimize your soft opening menu by featuring limited menu items highlighting your restaurant’s signature dishes. This streamlined approach ensures smooth operations and swift service for your valued guests.

Determine pricing details

A Discount
A Discount

To generate excitement and draw a crowd during your soft opening, consider implementing discounted prices or introducing special promotions. These enticing offers not only make your establishment more appealing to potential customers but also create a buzz and generate anticipation within the community.

Soft Opening and Grand Opening Difference

Grand Opening Promotion
Grand Opening

While soft and grand openings share the goal of promoting a new restaurant, they differ in various ways. Soft openings focus on testing and improvement, while grand openings are about creating a memorable launch event.

Soft Opening Characteristics

  • Low-Profile: Soft openings are low-key, with a limited guest list.
  • Testing Ground: It’s a testing ground to work out any kinks and receive feedback.
  • Lower Expectations: Guests understand that it’s a trial run, so they’re forgiving of any minor issues.

Grand Opening Characteristics

  • High-Profile: Grand openings are splashy and designed to attract attention.
  • One Shot: You have one chance to make a big impression.
  • Higher Expectations: Guests expect a flawless experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

When to Plan a Soft Opening?

Schedule your restaurant soft opening approximately 1-2 weeks before your grand opening. This strategic timing allows for ample time to implement essential improvements based on invaluable feedback received during the soft opening phase.

Why is it called a soft opening?

It’s called a soft opening because it’s a gentle introduction to your restaurant, allowing you to work out any issues before your grand opening.

How do you invite people to a soft opening?

Compile a guest roster encompassing friends, family, influencers, and individuals from your industry. Disseminate invitations through email or traditional physical cards. Additionally, leverage the power of social media to pique interest and broaden your event’s reach.


For restaurant owners, a seamless and prosperous soft opening serves as the cornerstone for a thriving business. By gaining insight into the significance of a soft opening, its purpose, and the essential steps for readiness, you’re taking significant strides toward culinary success.

As you embark on this journey, don’t forget to acknowledge and celebrate your hard work during the grand opening, setting the stage for a promising future in the realm of gastronomy.

=> Book a 30-minute call with Andrea <=

Andrea Abbondanza

Andrea Abbondanza, born in Milan (Italy) and now a proud Australian citizen, is a passionate food lover and the dynamic CEO of Seoforestaurants.com. With his rich culinary background and deep understanding of online marketing strategies, Andrea helps restaurants and cafes around the world elevate their online presence. His journey from Italy to Australia has infused his work with a unique blend of European flair and Aussie charm, making him a go-to resource for cafes and restaurants looking to elevate their digital presence and grow their businesses.

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Seo for Restaurants is a boutique agency specialised in Google Business Management, SEO and Local SEO for restaurants and Cafes.

What can we do for you?

  • Be on top of Google in your local area
  • Reach new customers
  • Increase the number of phone calls
  • Increase the number of bookings and most importantly, increase revenue for your restaurant

Andrea Abbondanza is a passionate food lover and the CEO of Seo for Restaurants. With his rich culinary background and deep understanding of online marketing strategies, Andrea helps restaurants and cafes worldwide elevate their online presence and increase

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