As a restaurateur, your restaurant’s name is the front-line ambassador of your brand. Whether your restaurant is rooted in traditional Italian or playful fusion cuisine, the name should represent what you want to convey about your restaurant. Creating a name that captures a your restaurant’s character and essence can be a challenging task.
To make it easier, here are some tips for finding the perfect restaurant name that speaks to who you are as a business and helps customers find their way through your door.
Focus on your mission
Your restaurant’s mission statement showcases your unique values and goals. Use that mission as inspiration for naming your business. When brainstorming names for your restaurant, describe your concept in three concise words. Use these words as a jumping-off point for names to convey your mission to future diners.
When James Beard Award-nominated chef Zubair Mohajir was naming his South Indian-influenced restaurant, he chose Wazwan, the Kashmiri word for a multi-course meal.The name pays homage to Mohajir’s inspiration and gives diners important information about his mission–to create an unforgettable 8-course tasting menu focused on elevated South Asian street food.
Know your history
The history of your restaurant’s location can also be a great source of name inspiration. Incorporating history into your restaurant’s name instantly connects you to the community and provides an excellent story for diners.
Seattle’s Tavern Law is named for an 1832 statute that gave inns and saloons permission to serve alcohol to customers without requiring them to rent a room for the night. The name is perfect for the speakeasy-inspired bar, which is focused on serving education about the history of the cocktail in addition to delicious bespoke beverages.
Consider your customer
As you work on your restaurant business plan, you’ll be researching the demographics of your target audience. Use demographics like age and life stage to consider restaurant names that appeal to the diners you hope to attract. Parents of young children looking for a family-friendly casual dining experience will likely look for a restaurant that’s different from a professional couple looking for a romantic date spot. One way to stand out is to have your name be an invitation to your ideal diner. Michelin Bib Gourmand spot AJ’s Pit Bar-B-Q in Denver conveys what it offers—barbecue! The addition of AJ’s adds a warm and homely touch.
Wordplay can be a fun way to get diners interested in your restaurant and can act as a mnemonic device to help keep your business top of mind. Research shows that we’re much more likely to remember words that rhyme.
Jardin at the Garden provides elegant, Mediterranean fare to San Antonio Botanical Garden visitors. The rhyming name is easy to remember, and variants of the word jardin translate to garden in several Mediterranean countries, which hints at the flavors included in the menu.
Additionally, the theory of “sound symbolism” can make your restaurant appealing simply based on the mouth feel of the letters in the name. According to an interview with experimental psychologist Charles Spence from The Guardian, many of the most successful brands have the “K” sound. Try experimenting with alliteration in potential restaurant names.
Do your research
Make sure your restaurant doesn’t share a name with any other businesses. Locally, it can get pretty confusing if there’s a “Bill’s Pizza” on one side of town and a “Bill’s Pub” on the other. On a larger scale, giving your restaurant a name that has already been trademarked can turn into a legal hassle.
Here are a few ways to research business names:
- Google Search
- The Yellow Pages
- The U.S. Better Business Bureau
- The United States Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark database search
Try a name generator
If you’re still at a loss for a restaurant name, try a restaurant name generator. These free online tools will come up with dozens of suggestions in seconds based on a brief restaurant description. And while they might not serve up exactly the name you’re looking for, they’re a great starting point if you’re stumped.