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July 12, 2022

10 ways to choose a great restaurant name

A name can be all the difference between someone taking a look at the menu — or moving on. Find 10 tips on how to choose a restaurant name.
July 12, 2022

“What's in a name?” asks the heroine of Romeo and Juliet.

“That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.”

But how about a restaurant name?

A name can be all the difference between someone taking a look at the menu — or moving on. 

Even in fair Verona, diners were doubtless picky about any new tavern with a stinker of a name.

For episode 6 of The Recipe, we talked to a dozen top restaurants about how they chose a name.

Here are 10 top tips: 

1. Short and sweet

Of the World’s Top 50 Restaurants, no fewer than 30 have a single-word name. Think Noma, Central, Odette, Septime, and Maaemo.

2. Say my name

Make it easy to pronounce. Bonus points if it works in many different languages — like Donda, Qasim Khan’s trendy Latin American eatery in Copenhagen.

3. What’s the story, morning glory?

Consider a name with a story behind it — the more personal, the better. Beau Clugston named his Copenhagen seafood restaurant Iluka not only because it means “by the sea” in Aboriginal, but because it’s the name of a town where he developed his first memories of food.

4. Location, location, location

Take inspiration from your address and name your restaurant after the street it’s on, as Nick Mash did with The Salisbury and The Chamberlayne gastropubs.

5. Follow your concept

Choose a name that reflects the ethos of your restaurant. Henne, in the historic town of Moreton-in-Marsh, aims to be as local as possible. So it took its name from henne mersh — the Old English word for the town.

6. Head to “dictionary corner”

Matt Orlando liked the idea of a restaurant “gathering” everything it needed, but he thought the name Gather was “lame”, so he popped the word into — and instantly came up with the name of his popular Copenhagen restaurant, Amass.

7. Found in translation

Is there a word that describes your restaurant’s cuisine? And is there a fun word for it in another language? Voilà! When the owners of Pico Pizza learned that the Esperanto word for pizza was pico — coincidentally the first letters of “pizza” and “Copenhagen” — they knew it was a winner.

8. Start over again

If you’ve inherited a restaurant a bad rep, you might want to give it a new name — as Nick Mash did when he took over The Three Horseshoes pub, which had a dismal rating on TripAdvisor. His solution? Change the name to The Mash Inn — in honour of his late father.

9. New concept, new name

Likewise, if you change your cuisine or concept, a new name might be necessary. When the Copenhagen restaurant Souls upped its game in the kitchen, it chose a fancy new name — Ark.

10. Ignore the rules

As Ark’s creative director, Jenia Nelisova, points out: “You might have the worst name but it just sticks with people, and once you’ve built a brand around it, it doesn't matter anymore.”

Want more inspiration about choosing a restaurant name? Check out episode 6 of The Recipe — What’s In a Name?— on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

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