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Generating Trial And Awareness Of A New Restaurant At A Grand Opening


Generating trial and awareness of a new restaurant at a grand opening is key to its ongoing success. But delivering interest in an existing restaurant that is being renovated or re-concepted to earn media attention and increase guest counts surrounding a grand re-opening can be a far more difficult task.

Ovation Brands, the nation’s largest steak buffet restaurant chain with over 325 locations, began re-concepting its restaurants in key markets such as Denver and Central Louisiana in 2012. The re-concepted restaurants receive truly impressive updates in décor, service and menu items. Ink Link Marketing was hired to handle the marketing and public relations for the grand re-openings of their re-concepted restaurants because our replicable strategies made it easy to execute buzz-worthy events across all brands at all locations. Also, using an experienced marketing firm such as Ink Link freed up the individual store managers from having to spend valuable time away from their operations to plan the events.


Ink Link Marketing created customizable templates to be used at any store location. Using simple, streamlined designs took the guesswork and wasted time and money out of planning a grand re-opening event. Promotions could be added or removed according to the needs of the brand or market. The agency drafted scripts, memos, press releases, how-to guides and more. In addition, Ink Link provided staffing through brand ambassadors, who were hired and trained when Buffets first entered a new market. These street teams were brought in for door hangings, community outreach and on-site grand re-opening events. The mass of materials created was referred to as “Grand Re-openings in a Box,” because of the ease in which a store location could perform their grand re-opening event with the help of Ink Link Marketing’s tactics.


The re-creatable grand re-opening kit included templates, instructions and checklists for public relations, promotions, community outreach and event planning. All programs were designed to create excitement for the weeks leading up to and the day of the grand re-openings.


  • Customizable press release templates for each location, including: the grand re-opening event, sweepstakes or enter-to-win prize promotions, charity components and/or a post release with photo from the ribbon cutting at the event.

  • Talking points for store managers, employees and brand ambassadors when speaking about the event.

  • Detailed action plans for Chef’s Tastings and cooking segments tailored for media were also created.


  • Chef’s Tasting events with key media contacts. Food drops to television and radio stations.

  • Outreach and partnerships with area car dealerships, including car giveaways and radio remotes were executed.

Community Outreach

  • Ribbon cutting with mayor, chamber of commerce or key community officials.

  • School bands, choirs or dance teams at the event.

  • Benefit Nights were scheduled to attract large non-profits to the grand re-opening week.

  • Brand ambassadors to distribute flyers and door hangers prior to the opening.

Event Planning

  • Entertainment such as balloon artists, clowns, DJs or live music for the opening.

  • Props like balloon arches and spin and win items were created.

  • Run-of-show program to help store managers and staff plan their day according to the schedule of events.

  • Prize wheels and enter-to-win programs for large prizes like $10,000 or a new car.


  • Brand ambassadors intercepted guests to learn about the key attributes about the remodel that left a positive impression.


  • Restaurants realized double digital increases in traffic and sales for many weeks after the grand opening.

  • Learnings from the surveys resulted in some adjustments to the re-concepted elements.

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