When you are opening a restaurant, getting customers in the door is a challenge. To help ensure big opening crowds, start building interest and generating a buzz well in advance of the opening and keep going once the restaurant is in operation. By using a variety of marketing channels, you can reach out to people who will be interested in trying your food and checking out a new place to eat.
List your restaurant on online directories so it will show up when people are searching for a place to eat. Create a business profile on Google Places with your correct location and contact information. Find sites that are specific to your town such as listings on newspaper websites and hotel resource sections, and add your restaurant to the list.
Connect with potential customers online. Build profiles for your website on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter and invite your friends and family to join and invite their networks. Post regular updates about the restaurant and give out special discounts to friends or followers. Post at any time of the day to get hold of people while they are at work, at home or out and about and checking their profiles on cell phones.
Get media outlets interested in your new restaurant. Write a press release that talks about the type of food, the chef and the features of the establishment. Send them along to reporters and bloggers in your area. To make your story more attractive to journalists, include a list of potential story angles such as a celebrity chef or a new fusion cuisine. The easier you can make a reporter's job, the more likely he is to follow up.
Invest in signs that let passersby know that a new restaurant is opening. Put out a banner, hang signs above the sidewalk, and put out standing signs on nearby streets to direct customers in. Place signs in places with high traffic to catch the attention of people who are out looking for places to eat. Choose signs that go along with the style of your restaurant so customers have an idea of what to expect.
Give out samples of your food to whet customers' appetites. Have a staff member hand out miniature bites on the sidewalk outside of the restaurant. Set up a booth in a local mall with free snacks for shoppers. You might also surprise a business with a free lunch. Use your tastiest dishes and hand out a business card with each sample.