“What’s in a (restaurant) name? That which we call a rose
by any other name would smell as sweet.”
Living with a Weird 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 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.
People 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.”
What’s in a Name?
During the frigid days of the New Year, I turned on the space heater in my study, donned a few extra sweaters and cozied up to the computer screen with a hot beverage. I made a list—not of resolutions—but of some local restaurant names by categorizes. As you can see, many include first or family names, geographic locations, or cute phrases, but some are hard to recall or pronounce.
St. Louis Restaurant Names by Categories
Food Names: Pickles, Mango, Lemon’s, Almonds, Sheesh (shish kabob), Half & Half, Garbanzo, Urban Chestnut
Feminine Names: Mary Ann’s Tea Room, Jeni’s Ice Cream, Evangeline’s Bistro, Layla, Molly’s, Diana’s Bakery, Adriana’s, Cafe Natasha, Lona’ Lil Eats, Trattoria Marcella, Clementine’s, Mai Lee, Annie Gunn, Katie’s Pizza, LuLu Seafood, Mama Toscano’s, Cafe Madeleine, Cathy’s Kitchen, Jilly’s Cupcakes, Billy-Jean, Miss Sheri’s Cafeteria, Hamburger Mary’s.
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, Bob’s Seafood, Gus’s Fried Chicken, Nathaniel Reid Bakery, and a great many family names.
Animals/Birds/Fish: Shaved Duck, Peacock Loop Diner, The Purple Martin, Three Monkeys, Rooster, The Blue Elephant, Mad Crab, 801 Fish, Stone Turtle
Geographic Locations (Address, City or Country): Southwest Diner, Eleven Eleven Mississippi, Fountain on Locust, Sidney Street Cafe, Broadway Oyster Bar, Piccadilly at Manhattan, Boathouse, Pho Grand, One 19 North Tapas & Wine Bar, Demun Oyster Bar, Little Saigon, Missouri Bakery, Everest Cafe, Himalayan Yeti, Seoul Taco, Cafe Napoli, House of India, The London Tea Room, India Palace, House of India.
Foreign Terms: Sanctuaria, Banh Mi So, Brasserie, Vin de Set, Privado, Das Bevo, La Patisserie Chouquette, Nixta, I Fratellini, Cielo, Pastaria, Bar Les Frères, Parigi, La Bonne Bouchée, Parigi, La Patisserie Choquette, Cantina Laredo, Sameem, Cafe Provencal, Al-Tarboush, Guo-Bin, Mia Sorella.
Cute: Grace Meat, Sugarfire, Guerrilla Street Food, Goody-Goody, ‘Zzz Pizza, Atomic Cowboy, Stone Soup, Crushed Red, Mud House, Kounter Kulture, Sub Zero, Wicked Greenz, Nudo House, Vincent Van Donut, Shake Shack, Shawarma King.
Single Word/Abstract Concept: Turn, Boundary, Peacemaker, Taste, Robust, Publico, Eclipse, Pi, Crown Candy, Element, Panorama, Scape, The Crossing, The Libertine, Polite Society, Corner 17.
Composite Words: SqWires, Tavola V, Byrd & Barrel, Olive & Oak, Fork & Stix, Salt+Smoke, Pig and Pickle, Iron Barley, Taco Buddha, 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 might be just as well. It may mean that Midwesterners take their food more seriously.
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. I’m on my way to Whatchamacallits for lunch right now. 🙂