Five Things to Consider When Choosing a Restaurant Name

Think location, concept, and simplicity

Luxury hotel restaurant table and chairs setting

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What's in a name? A lot, particularly when that name is linked to a business like a restaurant. The name is part of the establishment's identity. It should evoke a good feeling when someone hears it, calling up either a happy memory of a past evening out or curiosity to try the place.

A good restaurant name reflects the concept of the restaurant and suggests the type of food, location, and ambiance to be found there.

Choosing one is a challenge. Here's how to get started.

Think About Your Location

Your location can be a great source for a potential restaurant name.

If there's a famous site or attraction in your neighborhood, consider naming your restaurant after it. It's both appropriate and memorable.

If you're near a beach, a lake, or a mountain, consider the possibilities. Joe's Place works for a casual joint, but Joe's Beach Shack works better.

Maybe your restaurant is located in a building that has a compelling history or character. If you're operating out of an old mill, you might name your place the Old Mill Pub.

Consider Your Concept

If you plan to feature a certain cuisine, such as Italian or Mexican, your name can reflect that ethnicity. Avoid fussy or snooty names, especially if it's a casual crowd you're seeking.

The important thing is that your restaurant and its name should go together naturally. 

Make a List of Possibilities

Even if you have a name in mind, brainstorm other options and ask friends and family for suggestions. Listen closely if those people match the kind of clientele you hope to be serving in your restaurant.

You might be surprised at the feedback you get. A name you thought was perfect might have unpleasant connotations for others. Or someone might come up with a name that wouldn't have occurred to you spontaneously. 

Keep it Simple

If no one can pronounce or spell your restaurant's name they won't be able to find you easily and they'll soon give up trying. Make sure your name is easy and memorable enough for customers to find your establishment online or in the real world.  

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 a fast food place named McDowell's. Don't do that. First, you might get sued. Second, it might give the impression that you're a poor copy of your competition.

And, on that subject, once you settle on a name, you might talk to an attorney about trademarking it.