Five Things to Consider When Choosing a Restaurant Name

Think location, concept and simplicity

How to choose a restaurant name

What's in a name? A lot, particularly when that name is linked to a business like a restaurant. The name becomes part of the establishment's identity. It should have the ability to evoke a good feeling when someone hears it, like happy memories of times spent there, or just intrigue or curiosity if they've never visited or heard of the establishment. You want people to smile and nod when someone says, "Hey, do you want to stop by The Restaurant after work tonight?" 

But you'll need something a little catchier than "The Restaurant." You'll want something that grabs and attracts visitors to your city or area, as well as regulars who routinely drop in at 5:30 on Fridays. A good restaurant name should reflect the concept of the restaurant and link the food, the location, and the restaurant's ambiance.

Choosing one doesn't have to be a challenge, although it can be. And you'll want to accomplish it well before you greet your first diner. Here's how. 

Think About Your Location

Your location can be a great source for potential restaurant names. Are there any nearby attractions, such as lakes, mountains or beaches, that will attract visitors because they're what your area is known for? Is there an historical link you could incorporate? Is your restaurant located in a building that has a story behind it that would make a good name? Maybe it was an old grist mill that you could now call the Old Mill Pub.

Consider Your Restaurant Concept

If you plan to feature a certain cuisine, such as Italian or Mexican, you might consider a name that reflects that ethnicity. But if your restaurant is a casual diner more geared to a hungry and hurried breakfast crowd, you won't want a fussy name like Pierre's when Joe's Hotcakes would suffice and get your message across.

Then again, Pete's Coq au Vin won't cut it, either, if your restaurant is much more upscale. The important thing is that your restaurant and its name should go together and complement each other. 

Make a List of Possible Names

Brainstorm other options even if you already have a name already in mind. Ask others for suggestions. Friends and family members could offer some valuable input—particularly if they're representative of the type of clientele you hope to attract.

You might be surprised at the feedback you get. A name you thought was perfect might not go over so well with others, and someone might come up with a great new name that wouldn't have occurred to you otherwise. 

Avoid Names That Are Hard to Spell or Pronounce

If no one can pronounce your restaurant's name without struggling, they certainly won't be able to spell it, and that means they won't easily be able to find you on the Internet if they're looking for your website. Make sure your name is easy or memorable enough for customers to find your establishment. For example, The Pink Petunia is far easier to remember, speak, and spell than La Petunia Rose. 

And about that website ... you'll want to be sure you have one of those, too, after you settle on a name.

Watch Out for Trademarks

Be careful not to trespass on trademarked and otherwise famous restaurant namesRemember the Eddie Murphy movie Coming to America? He worked at McDowell's instead of McDonald's. Yeah, don't do that. It's just too close. First, you might be asking for legal trouble. Second, it might give the impression that you're copying your competition.

This rule applies not only to the names of national chains but to those of your competitors as well. 

That's It 

You're almost there. Now that you've settled on a name, you can turn your mind to developing a clear restaurant concept and finding a good restaurant location. You might also want to talk to an attorney about trademarking your own name so that protection is in place when your restaurant really takes off.