When Ayr Muir in Boston knew he wanted to open a restaurant, he launched a food truck to test locations and menus, changing both daily until he found the optimal formula. He now has a chain of restaurants in the area.
 
Practice makes perfect! Opening with limited offerings lets you test what is resonating with your guests before fleshing out the concept. Soft opening strategies to think about:

  • Hold a friends and family only opening with complementary dishes and collect feedback. 
    • This can be used a staff training opportunity. It can also be used to see what is ordered and what's popular so you can order and prep accordingly.
  • Offer a “sneak peek” menu that offers half of what is on your complete menu. It reduces stress on new staff and encourages customers to come back to see the full menu reveal.
  • Consider limited hours to begin. For example, try offering just breakfast and lunch for 4 days, then dinner on the fifth.
  • Hold a partial opening for just neighboring homes and businesses. 
    • This will help you gain local customers. It also helps you make friends with other restaurants in the area, which makes it easier to borrow something when you run out of an ingredient on a busy Saturday night.