Downtown Grand Rapids recently welcomed the first Tupelo Honey location in the Great Lakes region, and the HAPPY team was more than excited to help plan our first grand opening event since the start of the pandemic. 

Tupelo Honey is an Asheville, NC based restaurant chain bringing scratch-made southern food and hospitality to downtown Grand Rapids. Along with beautifully crafted beverages and mouth-watering meals, the restaurant features the cutest mix of southern-inspired decor and Grand Rapids-inspired art deco themes. 

The restaurant’s opening received 35 total media hits and more than 100 social media posts from local influencers.

Even with hundreds of grand opening events under our belts, coordinating one during a pandemic was an entirely new experience. Here are a couple of strategies we used to help Tupelo Honey pull off a successful and safe grand opening. 

Make it Exclusive

A significant change from our usual grand opening strategy was that rather than inviting as many guests as possible to the main event, we had to obtain RSVPs and limit our outreach. This helped Tupelo Honey maintain social distancing and keep the restaurant at a safe capacity. 

This strategy worked to our advantage. A VIP, invite-only event increased excitement about the new restaurant, and it gave Tupelo Honey the opportunity to run a giveaway promotion on social media. Followers shared on social media and entered their contact information for a chance to win an invitation to the VIP event, which was a great way to generate excitement around Grand Rapids. 

Plan plenty of Zoom calls

While a couple of West Michigan news stations have started doing in-person interviews, others are still relying on Zoom to implement guests into their shows. 

Thanks to quality internet and the restaurant’s adorable interior, we were able to secure several virtual interviews with local media leading up to the grand opening, like this one with previous HAPPY team member Meredith, who is now rocking the morning news at 13 On Your Side. 

The pandemic hasn’t been an easy time for most businesses (including HAPPY, which you can read more about at Emily Richett’s website). Businesses that innovate and find ways to attract customers safely are the ones that will weather the storm. 

Have a grand opening, brand launch, or other event to promote? Drop us a note and we’ll be in touch if you’re a good fit!