Restaurant Soft Openings – What you need to know

There’s a trend that’s been spreading across the city’s restaurants that you probably don’t know about – soft openings.

A soft opening is when a restaurant opens it doors for business, but doesn’t publicize it. This way, the restaurant can greet customers as they walk by or find out about it, but work out the kinks quietly, finalize menu items, etc., before the crowds, press and reviewers discover it.

Almost every new restaurant that has opened in the last few months has made it clear in their first few weeks that they are in “soft opening” mode. Press and reviews are not encouraged during this period.

I believe that once a restaurant opens to the public, it should be publicized. And while I don’t believe it should be subject to review in the first few days, after one week it should be able to be reviewed with the mention of how new it is.

In an ideal world, restaurants would be reviewed two or three times over a long period, but we don’t have that kind of time anymore.

A new restaurant opened every day last week and one is opening almost daily this week. The press has more to cover than ever. Monthly and weekly deadlines have become daily and hourly. The press has the right to spread the news about a new restaurant opening, whether the establishment feels ready or not.

There is a short grace period of a week or two where we understand you’re working out the kinks and we’ll say so. Even three months later, you might still be changing things, finessing menu items and service. We get it. We’ll take that into consideration.

But don’t say it’s too soon once you open your doors to the public and charge for your services. Would you consider honouring this exception for any other industry, say a daycare or hair salon, for example?

I don’t think so.

Open should mean open, without any softener needed.