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Coffee Shop Pre-Launch Tips

Make your coffee shop grand opening a showstopper, not a snoozefest

Hi there,


One thing I see so many business owners mess up is the grand opening.


Opening a coffee shop isn't just about flipping the sign to 'Open' and waiting for the masses to pour in.


"Build it and they will come" might've worked for a baseball diamond in the middle of a corn field, but it won't work for your cafe.


No, instead (and in light of the recent Oscars), think about your grand opening like the release of Barbie.

Granted, Mattel (maker of Barbie) was working with a nostalgic toy, tons of history and intellectual property, huge budget, famous celebrity stars and director, and much more.


Yeah, they could've released a lackluster toy-based movie that did moderately well in the box office, but they seized the opportunity to create MASSIVE buzz around the movie's release.


Barbie's production budget: $145MM

Barbie's promotion budget: $150MM


That's right. They spent EVEN MORE promoting the movie than making. The average blockbuster spends about 1/3 as much on marketing as production – so, Barbie clearly took a different approach.


You've gotta treat your grand opening like you're dropping the next box office hit. Here’s how you turn that coffee shop launch into the talk of the town.

Step 1: Whisper Before You Shout

Kick things off by getting the word out early.

Tell your buddies, your mom, the dude you met at that small business mixer, and especially local media folks about what you’re cooking up.

This isn’t just chitchat; it’s strategic networking.

The right conversation over a beer or mocktail today could land you a killer collab or a spotlight in the local media outlet tomorrow.

Of course, you might not know ~exactly~ when you'll open – and that's okay. Give people your best estimate and update as you go.

Plant these seeds and as the actual date starts to materialize, capitalize on those relationships.

Step 2: Tease ‘Em, Don’t Spam ‘Em

Nobody likes being bombarded with “Come check us out!” messages. It won't grow your social media following, it won't pique people's interest, and it won't curry favor with your potential customer base.


No one is sitting at home anxiously awaiting your post so that they can immediately drop everything and go to your cafe.


Instead, be slick about it.


Start dropping hints like you’re teasing the next summer blockbuster. Make them lean in, make them wonder what’s up your sleeve.


Then, ramp up the intrigue.


Share sneak peeks of your menu or the story behind your coffee beans or the roaster supplying you. A mysterious Instagram post showing some behind-the-scenes shots, a "before" photo of the location, or a logo mark hinting at things to come.


Just like releasing a teaser trailer, you’re not giving away the plot, just flashing enough to get them hooked and hitting that follow button.


Of course, do this on social media, but don't stop there. Create a simple website (I like that serves as a landing page for interested folks to sign up for your email list (MailChimp, ConvertKit, or Brevo).


Incentivize signups by offering things like:

  • VIP tour of the cafe with the owner before opening

  • Free retail bag of coffee to pick up the first week of opening

  • Free drink of choice every day during the first week of open

  • Discount on merch when it arrives (maybe even before opening!)


Your website does not have to be complicated or even fully built out to begin with, but you have to give people somewhere to find you online (besides only social media and a Facebook page).


(If you want help building a landing page, reply to this email and we can schedule time to work together.)

Step 3: Release The Trailer

When the countdown to opening day gets real, hit them with the main trailer.


Dive deep into your coffee shop's ethos.


Why here? Why you?


As humans, we LOVE a good story. Use a short video trailer to talk about the history of your location, your dream of opening a cafe, the meaning behind your brand, or whatever it is that can captivate your audience.


Whether it’s your commitment to sustainability, your grandma’s secret pastry recipe, or your in-house roasting process, this is where you lay it all out.


Use this video on social media, digital ads, your website, and wherever else folks might go to learn about you. If possible, use a professional creative agency.


Bottom line: make them care, make them invested.


Step 4: VIP Sneak Peek Party

Before the public release, a soft launch can be incredibly beneficial (one of the things I mention in the Grand Opening Checklist). The soft launch can be more than simply a period to work out the kinks and train up the staff.

While a "soft launch" is generally 1-3 weeks, consider having a VIP specific party. A closed, 2-hour invitation-only event.

Add a bit of structure (like a scheduled time to show your trailer on a projector, then give a short speech introducing yourself and some of your staff), highlight some special menu items (like little samples from a local baker supplying you) and give your guests something they can walk away with (like a branded thermos, gift card to your cafe, or the like).

Invite the who’s who of the local scene for a taste test. Influencers, foodies, the morning radio show host.

This isn't just about freebies; it’s about generating buzz with the tastemakers. When they talk, people listen.

Step 5: Grand Slam Opening

Your opening day? It's showtime, baby.


This ain't about quietly unlocking the door.


Think live music, latte specials, discounts on retail merch and coffee beans, or a pop-up pastry collab.


What can you give your first 20 customers? Merch? BOGO coffee? Free stickers? a hand-written "Thank you" note?


Make it an experience, an event that screams, "You wish you were here."


Remember, launching your coffee shop is as much about the spectacle as it is about the coffee.


By building anticipation, engaging your audience, and delivering an unforgettable experience, you’re not just opening a shop; you’re launching a brand, a destination, a part of people’s daily grind they didn’t know they were missing.


So, let’s get brewing and make your coffee shop the premiere everyone's been waiting for.

Download the Grand Opening Checklist for free here.

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