Choosing a Restaurant Name

Tips for Naming a Restaurant

Restaurant on Langerovskaya Street, Odessa
••• Richard Cummins/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images

Choosing a restaurant name is as important as deciding what type of food you are going to serve. It may reflect your restaurant’s theme, its location or simply be a play on words. The important thing to consider when choosing a restaurant name is the impression it will leave on customers. Will it be memorable? Can they pronounce and/or spell it? (important if they are trying to find information online). As the owner, you should select a name that resonates with you and has a deeper meaning. After all, you are about to embark on a great adventure and your restaurant name is going to be a part of the rest of your life.


Naming a Restaurant After a Location

Often times naming a restaurant is simple. The owners take a cue from their restaurant’s location. For example, our restaurant is located in the former boiler room of an old New England shoe factory. Because of this historic link, we decided to call the restaurant simply The Boiler Room Restaurant. It is easy to remember and most of the locals know that it refers to the old shoe shop. Tourist’s passing through love that is was once part of an old factory.

The French Laundry, in Napa Valley, California is one of the countries most esteemed restaurants. Its name stems from the fact the restaurant building once housed a French steam laundry during the 19th century. The building was also once a brothel, but the restaurant owners wisely stayed away from incorporating that name.

Reflecting a Theme in a Restaurant Name

Choosing a restaurant name can also come from a theme or menu. Chinese restaurants do this perfectly, with names like Jade Palace, Fortune Fountain, and The New Great Wall. Each of these restaurant names let customers know that they serve Chinese food. Avoid calling your restaurant an ethnic name if you are serving a different type of menu. For example, if you are serving authentic Mexican food, calling the restaurant Giovanni’s will confuse your patrons, who may think you serve Italian food.

Adding a Personal Meaning to a Restaurant Name

Opening a restaurant is like having another child in many ways. Sometimes a restaurant's name is a reflection of the owner’s name or someone dear to them. Wendy’s founder, Dave Thomas, named his restaurant concept after his daughter. Perhaps your grandmother influenced your joy of cooking, so you might name your restaurant after her. What ever the meaning behind your restaurant’s name, be prepared to share it with the public, who love a good story.

Restaurant Name With a Play On Words

Paula Deen’s first restaurant business was called The Bag Lady, because she and her sons went around delivering bagged lunches to local businesses. This is a great example of playing with words. Fun restaurant names that have nothing to do with food are usually easy to remember, and pass on by word of mouth. Celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck called his earliest restaurant Spago, (Italian slang for spaghetti.) Little in the name would tell you that it serves a fusion of Mediterranean and California cuisine, with a specialty in wood-fired pizzas.

It’s just a great restaurant name.

Maybe Try a Restaurant Pun 

While puns are not considered all that funny by some people, when used as a restaurant name they can be clever and memorable. Names like Thai Tanic, Frying Nemo Fish and Chips, Lox Stock and Bagels all use a clever (maybe somewhat disturbing) twist on words that make it easy to remember. Other punny names (sorry, I couldn't help myself) include the Grillenium Falcon in Fayetteville Arkansas, The Codfather Restaurant in Phoenix, Arizona and Lord of The Wings in Sandusky, Ohio.  

Avoid Trademarked Restaurant Names

If your last name happens to be McDonald's, don’t call your restaurant that. You are just asking for trouble (ditto if your last name is Taco Bell, Burger King or Jack In The Box.) It may seem like a harmless gesture to name a restaurant something similar to an already established chain, but you’ll be asking for potential legal troubles.

There are many different ways to choose a name for a new restaurant. No matter how it is selected, it should be unique, memorable and reflect the restaurant's brand.