When it comes to new restaurant openings in the UK, London really is the place to be, with brand spanking new restaurants opening their doors practically every day in the capital. In all honesty, it can sometimes be almost overwhelming for foodies like us keeping track of what’s new and when the latest must-visit spots are finally opening their doors. It’s equally difficult to then decide which places you should be trying first and how you’re going to afford all this food. Well, if you haven’t heard of one before, let us introduce you to our friend the soft launch.
When a restaurant launches, it will often kick things off with a soft launch, where customers can get a first taste of the restaurant before it’s even technically opened. Now, soft launches can vary hugely in terms of what’s on offer menu-wise, and whether you need to book etc. However, one thing that they tend to have in common is that they offer you food at a discounted price, and sometimes even for free. You may be wondering why any restaurant would do such a thing, but soft launches are useful for both parties as they give the staff the opportunity to have a sort of trial run before the official opening, and you the chance to fill up on delicious discounted food.
The only thing about soft launches is that they often aren’t widely advertised and also tend to come and go quite quickly, meaning you need to keep your eyes peeled. So to help you stay up-to-date with all of the soft launches London has to offer, we’ve put together a list of upcoming ones that you can try out for yourself, along with everything you need to know about what’s on offer and how to book – happy eating!
Soft launches London: all of the latest openings
The Gentlemen Baristas Mayfair
50% off the entire menu from 6-15 August
What: To celebrate the opening of its latest Mayfair location, The Gentlemen Baristas is offering a staggering half off its entire menu, with dishes to try from its all-day brunch menu including smashed avocado on sourdough toast and homemade granola. Head here on opening day itself (5 August) to also get your hands on some free affogato.
Where: 34 Bruton Place, W1J 6NR
Slice by Pizza Pilgrims
Giving away 1,000 free slices of pizza on 9 August
What: Pizza Pilgrims already has sites around the capital, but now its sibling brand Slice is set to open its first permanent location in Finsbury Park, following a successful pop up. To celebrate the launch of Slice, the restaurant will be giving away 1,000 slices of pizza to customers entirely free of charge - served at midday, 3pm and 6pm. To sign up and claim your free slice, simply head to slicebypizzapilgrims.co.uk
Where: 266 Seven Sisters Road, N4 2HY
50% off the bill and a glass of Prosecco on the house on the 9 and 10 August
What: Well-loved brand Megan’s is opening up yet another site (which happily is one more place to get a decent brunch in London, you could never have too many options in our opinion). To celebrate the launch of its new Wandsworth site, Megan’s is inviting people to pre-book their slot for half price food and free fizz come opening. Expect Middle Eastern treats like halloumi fries and a range of kebabs on the menu.
Where: 539-541 Old York Road, SW18 1TG
The Cinnamon Club, Westminster
The offer is available Monday – Thursday for both lunch and dinner throughout August
What: Celebrating 20 years of top-class Indian food, The Cinnamon Club is launching a tasting menu that has the same pricing as when the restaurant first opened in 2001. Okay, it may not be a traditional soft launch, given that the restaurant is a well-established favourite for many foodies in London, but it’s a steal none the less. At just £45 for an eight-course menu, this is one to get cemented in the diary before it quickly sells out. Dishes include the choice of tandoori venison served with a black stone flower reduction, or the 20th anniversary special: succulent slow-braised lamb leg with a nutmeg and pepper sauce.
Where: The Old Westminster Library, Great Smith Street, SW1P 3BU
London soft launches: Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
What is a soft launch?
A soft launch can be defined as a period of time in which a restaurant will offer discounted food (and sometimes drinks) to customers. Soft launches take place when a restaurant very first opens – some restaurants will heavily publicise their soft launches by hosting free giveaways or plastering it all over social media, while other restaurants take a more low-key approach.
Why do restaurants have soft launches?
You’re probably wondering why a restaurant would charge customers less than it needs to when it first opens. Well, the reason for this is two-fold. Firstly, restaurants offer major discounts when they first open to spread the word about their arrival and ensure that customers come through the doors. A soft launch is a great incentive for London diners, and if customers like what they see at the restaurant, they’re more likely to return at a later date.
The second reason is that a soft launch is also a crucial period of time in which a restaurant can iron out any kinks and overcome any teething problems that they didn’t foresee during the planning stages. There’s no real way to know exactly how a restaurant will operate without giving it a go in real life, so a soft launch can be a great learning curve for restaurants and their staff, especially as people are less likely to be offended by food or service that isn’t entirely up to scratch when they aren’t paying full whack for their meal.
How long do soft launches last?
The length of time for which a new restaurant is on soft launch can vary wildly. Some restaurants will only offer discounted food on their very first day of operation or across their opening weekend, while others stretch their soft launch across a few weeks. It’s also important to note that some restaurants may offer 50% off for the first week of their launch, and then 25% off for the second. We’d always recommend checking out this page to see exactly what a restaurant is offering and for how long!
Want to know which new restaurants we're loving right now? Make your way through our pick of the hottest new openings.