Someone recently wrote that they were looking for advice on naming a restaurant. They had the idea of what they wanted but needed help in putting a name together. There are a few schools of thought on naming the place that you will be spending most of your time in. Some hire large marketing firms to develop a name that evolves from hours of discussion and story board analysis. Others choose a moniker that fits the personality of the owners, or the ambiance of the place they are about to open. Both of these procedures work, but I have always used a three step process for naming any of the establishments that I built.And, the steps are very simple. Here they are.
1). Geographical Recognition. Are there any landmarks or geographical attributes around the restaurant that could be incorporated in the name. In Excelsior, Minnesota, The St. Alban’s Boathouse was located on St. Alban’s Bay. The structure was also used as an original boathouse in the early 1920’s. The name worked perfectly.
2.) Ambiance. Get a feel and a vision for what the ambiance of your space will be like and how it will feel to customers. Capture the decor in the name. In Wayzata, Minnesota, when I opened a small Faux-French Bistro, I named it Chez Foley. The “Chez” said French, but the “Foley” allowed me to stray from a rigid Frenchification of the food presentation. Plus, the name was pronounced, “Fo-lay”. A play on the ambiance inside that was very French in style.
3). Tongue Comfortability.Does the name sound and feel good as it rolls off your tongue? It has to. For numerous reasons. People will ask directions. They need to be able to pronounce the name. They will need to remember the name when they are thinking about places to dine. And, you will want to be proud when you tell someone that you are the owner of whatever. It should also be a great marketing tool.
When I opened my Carmel, Ca. restaurant I was stumped on what to call the space that was going to be turned into a casually elegant, rustic space. Although the space had a great personality, I wasn’t able to think of an suitable name. I struggled due to the fact I wasn’t familar with the area. I had only been in Carmel for a few weeks before deciding to open the restauran, but that’s another blog.
One evening, frustrated with my inabilty to develop a moniker with style, I picked up the phone, called Tony Tollner, owner of the Rio Grill, a neighboring restaurant, and asked him what they called the 20,000 acres piece of property that my new, soon to open restaurant overlooked.
Amazingly, the parcel was owned by Styvesant Fish, a prominent fixture in the Carmel community, and a bit of character who was well known in town. The name of his property was “The Fish Ranch”.
Tolner actually named the restaurant for me. I don’t know if I ever thanked him.The name was perfect- the location was awful- but, that’s the game.
So when you name your restaurant, have your vision in mind. The name game is very important. Choose it wisely. If you have a problem coming up with a good one, call Tony Tolner. The Rio Grill. Carmel, California.