“What’s in a (restaurant) name? That which we call a rose
by any other name would smell as sweet.” ~William Shakespeare
Living with a Unique Name
I find the names of places, people, restaurants, even pets, fascinating. While doing some genealogy research I came upon a woman in the Jamestown Colony named Temperance Flowerdew. Isn’t that lovely! Perhaps more so in the 1600s than today. Just repeating it, makes you smile. (Can’t you imagine Ralph Kramden’s tone when saying hello to Temperance Flowerdew!)
From Temperance Flowerdew to Ima Hogg
In more recent times, there was a Texas woman named Ima Hogg, who overcame her moniker to become a society dame, philanthropist, and patron of the arts. Obviously, she made more of a name for herself than the graciously labeled Miss Flowerdew, leaving us an example of how to make lemonade when give lemons.
Putting a Name on the Place
Restaurants can trip us up with their playful or exotic names, too, some weirdly spelled or pronounced. On the other hand, car manufacturers or big corporations often hire naming experts to come up with spiffy titles for them.
But restaurant owners can be a stubborn lot. They’ll quaintly combine the names of all their children, or dogs, into a nonsense word or take an unknown foreign phrase and slap it on the door of their business.
Those, not given to remembering names in the first place, stumble around like this:
Hungry Person #1: “You know that new restaurant. . . what’s its name? Ahh. . . the one that begins with an X. I think it’s spelled Chinpot. But you don’t pronounce the “t”. Somebody said it mean “bluebird of happiness” in Aztec.
Hungry Person #2: “Well, why the hell didn’t they call it that? If I can’t spell the name, I can’t find it in Yelp. Never mind, let’s go to Carl’s Drive In. Now that’s a place you can’t forget.”
Some St. Louis Restaurant Names by Categories
Named After Foods: Pickles, Mango, Almonds, Garbanzo, Urban Chestnut, Truffles, Salsa Rosada (pink sauce), Seedz, Maize and Wheat
Feminine Names: Jeni’s Ice Cream, Molly’s, Diana’s Bakery, Adriana’s, Lona’ Lil Eats, Trattoria Marcella, Clementine’s, Mai Lee, Annie Gunn, Katie’s Pizza, Jilly’s Cupcakes Aya Sophia
Masculine Names: Ted Drewes, Pappy’s Smokehouse, Charlie Gitto’s, Tony’s, Peppe’s Apt. 2, Lorenzo’s Trattoria, Louie’s, Herbie’s, Carl’s Deli, Gus’s Fried Chicken, Nathaniel Reid Bakery, Carl’s Drive In, and a great many other family names.
Animals/Birds/Fish: Shaved Duck, Peacock Diner, Rooster, Blue Elephant, Mad Crab, 801 Fish, Stone Turtle, Little Fox, Idol Wolf
Geographic Locations (Address, City or Country): Southwest Diner, Fountain on Locust, Sidney Street Cafe, Broadway Oyster Bar, Piccadilly at Manhattan, 19 North Tapas & Wine Bar, Broadway Oyster Bar, La Saigon, Missouri Bakery, Everest Café, Himalayan Yeti, Seoul Taco, Café Napoli, House of India, Scottish Arm,
Foreign Terms: Sanctuaria, Brasserie, La Patisserie Chouquette, Nixta, Pastaria, Casa don Alfonso, Bistro la Floraison, Olio, La Bonne Bouchée, Cantina Laredo, Sameem, Sado, Acero, Vicini, Kain Tayo, Jalea, and Menya Rui.
Cute: Have a Cow, Grace Meat, Atomic Cowboy, Stone Soup, Crushed Red, Mud House, Vincent Van Donut, Benevolent King, Fork & Stix, and Taco Buddha.
Single Word/Abstract Concept: Turn, Boundary, Peacemaker, Taste, Robust, Publico, Eclipse, Pi, Panorama, Polite Society, Corner 17.
Composite Words and Phrases: SqWires, Olive & Oak, Fork & Stix, Salt+Smoke, The Clover & the Bee.
Nothing Too “Punny”
I couldn’t find any local restaurant names that were overly cute. No imaginative gems such as: Thai Tanic or Lox, Stock & Bagel. Or Wok This Way. It’s probably just as well. It may mean that Midwesterners take their food more seriously.
What’s in a Name?
Some restaurants defy the odds and, like Ima Hogg, make the best of what appears to be a poor choice of name. After all, it’s what’s on the inside that beckons you back to a restaurant—if you can just remember enough of the name to Yelp it.
I’m on my way to Whatchamacallit’s for lunch right now. 🙂