Why Your Restaurant Name Matters
There is no question that two keys to success in the restaurant business are excellent food and great service. The team you put together and the experience you provide to your guests has to be top—notch. But there is another critical piece to restaurant success: marketing.
You can be the best chef in the world, cooking the best dishes and offering a dazzling menu. But if no one knows you exist or what you serve, the road to profitability alone will be challenging. Figuring out the concept is hard enough. But creative restaurant names are just as important. The flag on which your cooking flies is your business name.
Let's look at some of the most iconic, successful restaurant names: Taco Bell, Chipotle, Subway, Olive Garden, and many more. They are mainstays in the dining culture, and millions of people around the world recognize them.
But why are these names so successful? How have they become billion-dollar empires? Of course, tasty food, a specific dining experience, and real estate locations all have a part to play. But the other reason is that they are marketable. The names resonate and describe precisely the experience you will get.
The Making Of A Good Restaurant Name
Tom Cardarelli, the owner of Stracci Pizza in Alexandria, Virginia, started his business during the pandemic. He came up with the name as it translates to "rags or scraps," which seemed fitting for creating a pizzeria mid—pandemic.
Adding to the theme, the only cheese he serves in the pizzeria is Stracciatella, "Stracci" for short. He makes the cheese by hand daily to deliver delicious food to his customer base.
The name should be the priority for those starting to build a restaurant, but the name is a huge factor you should not take lightly. The name can be the reason you are chosen by customers and can be a device of brand loyalty. Utilize the skills taught in this article to give your restaurant the best name it can have.
When a guest decides on your restaurant, you must recognize that you are always competing. You are constantly vying for their attention. When they log in to their delivery apps or look at Google Maps for the closest restaurants in the area, there is always a battle for attention. Your name needs to stand out and represent what your business stands for.
Look to the people around you.
There is a reason large restaurant chains have whole segments related to marketing and other promotional material. But you don't need the resources they have to make a good name.
If you enter the restaurant space, you have some semblance of what restaurants resonate with you. You have a team of partners, employees, and colleagues. The best way to field a great restaurant name is by actively including others.
Perspective in this decision is a massive benefit to you and the potential success of your company. What may not resonate with you is a home run with others. Basing the name of the restaurant on your one single opinion is not a good idea.
Foster an air of camaraderie with your team and work through the name as a group. Let them build equity in this process. Let them be proud to have their name sewn on their chef jacket or stitched into their hat.
Letting your partners and some of the team market test your restaurant name is always something you should do in this process.
Is The Name In Use?
Customers are overwhelmed with the many ways they can spend their dining dollars. Social media is full of restaurant promotions, influencer ads, and marketing dollars funneled through every possible outlet. It's essential to stand out amidst this noise. You do not want to be too similar to a brand and be mistaken for it.
When you choose your restaurant name, make sure it's available online and on various social platforms. Like it or not, it's how your customers will find you. Use a tool like Namechk to search your restaurant name's availability across all the necessary social platforms. And make sure it's not too similar to other restaurants or businesses in your area. When potential customers search for you, you should be easy to find.
103 Restaurant Name Ideas to Inspire You
There are many ways you can go when choosing a restaurant name. Here are some of our favorites to kick off brainstorming in your naming journey.
Funny Restaurant Names
Comedy within naming a restaurant can be one great advantage to getting your customers to buy your food. A lighthearted approach paired with an approachable menu can be just the thing to draw customers in. Below are a few great examples:
- Basic Kneads Pizza— Denver, Colorado
- Tequila Mockingbird— Ocean City, Maryland
- Turnip The Beet— Port Angeles, Washington
- Cheeseburger in Paradise—Maui, Hawaii (fun fact: the restaurant came before the song!)
- Cheesy Does It— Saratoga, NY
- Anything's Pastable— Buffalo, NY
- The Burger's Priest — Toronto, Canada
- The Skinny Pancake — Albany, New York
- Redheaded Stranger—Nashville, Tennessee
Restaurant Names That Are Puns
Following the comedic route but with more of a pun focus, these names are also great ways to attract attention to customers.
- Jamaica Me Crazy— Smyrna, Georgia
- Moon Wok— New Orleans, Louisiana
- A Salt and Battery— New York, New York
- Burgatory— Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- The Dairy Godmother— Alexandria, Virginia
- Thai Me Up— Jackson, Wyoming
- Never Enough Thyme—Alpharetta, Georgia
Unique Restaurant names
These don't fit in a category—and it's definitely on purpose.
- Gunshow—Atlanta, Georgia
- Extra Fine—San Antonio, Texas
- Honey Butter Fried Chicken—Chicago, Illinois
- Howlin' Rays—Los Angeles, California
- Call Your Mother—Washington, D.C.
- Parts & Labour—Toronto, Canada
- Jewel of the South—New Orleans, Louisiana
Restaurant Names That Rhyme (or have alliterations)
A catchy restaurant name can also rhyme. A quick and easy name that snaps into focus when a customer sees it can make all the difference.
- Chops and Hops— Watkinsville, Georgia
- Curry in a Hurry— New York, New York
- Laughlin's Slice of Spice— Spring Arbor, Michigan
- Pie in the Sky— Baltimore, MD
- Pies n' Thighs—Brooklyn, New York
- Mellow Mushroom—Atlanta, Georgia
Pop Culture Restaurant Names
One only has to look into the success of media today to realize the gravity pop culture has on the average consumer. Many people resonate with various shows, games, and other media content. Some restaurant owners have tapped into this interest by making their restaurant theme based on pop culture icons. Below are a few that stand out.
- The Codfather— Reno, Nevada
- Stonehenge— Berkeley, California
- Of Rice and Men— Ann Arbor, Michigan
- Lord of the Wings— Herndon, Virginia
- Frying Nemo— Goole, United Kingdom
Best Mexican and Latin American Names
- Taqueria Los Primos— Laurel, MD
- Cactus Cantina— Washington D.C.
- Bandidos Mexican Grill— Nampa, Idaho
- Chronic Tacos—Phoenix, Arizona
- Burrito Boyz—Toronto, Canada
- Tacombi—New Yokr, New York
Best Seafood Restaurant Names
- Whiskey and Oyster— Alexandria, Virginia
- Seabar— Buffalo, NY
- Uchi— Houston, Texas
- Lure Fishbar— Chicago, Illinois
- Marea—New York, NY (Marea means “tide” in Italian)
- Ocean Prime—New York, NY
Best African Restaurant Names
- Akwaaba— New York, New York
- Eko Kitchen— San Francisco, California
- Moji African Restaurant— Miami, Florida
Best Indian Restaurant Names
- Pongal Indian Grill— Laurel, Maryland
- Masala House Indian Bistro— Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- Curry Club— Sacramento, California
- Chai Pani—Asheville, North Carolina
Best Japanese Restaurant Names
- Ramen-San— Chicago, Illinois
- Sushi Momoyama— Concord, California
- Little Tokyo Restaurant— Green Bay, Wisconsin
- Aji Ichiban— Cincinnati, Ohio
Best Chinese Restaurant Names
- Royal Dragon Noodle Bar and Grill— Niagara Falls, NY
- Sang Kee Peking Duck House— Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Sun Wah BBQ— Chicago, Illinois
- Shanghai Cafe— Salt Lake City, Utah
- Birds of a Feather—Brooklyn, New York
Best Italian Restaurant Names
- La Tavola Trattoria— Atlanta, Georgia
- Little Slice of New York— Camden, New Jersey
- Carmelo's— Lewiston, New York
- Ciccio Mio— Chicago, Illinois
- The Meatball Shop—New York, New York
Best French Restaurant Names
- La Fleur— Mayville, New York
- Au Revoir French Bistro— San Diego, California
- La Grande Boucherie— New York, New York
- Dirty French—New Yokr, NY
Best Steakhouse Names
- The Capital Grille— Providence, Rhode Island
- Hillstone— New York, New York
- Smith & Wollensky— Boston, Massachusetts
- Country Bill's— Portland, Oregon
Best Vegan Restaurant Names
- Kindred— New Orleans, Louisiana
- Slutty Vegan—Atlanta, Georgia
- Black Leaf Vegan Cafe— Indianapolis, Indiana
- NuVegan Cafe— Washington DC
Best Bar-B-Cue Restaurant names
- Hog Wild BBQ—Holland, Michigan
- Slo' Bones BBQ Smokehaus—Frankenmuth, Michigan
- Back Porch BBQ—La Grange, Texas
Best Korean Restaurant Names
- Iron Pig Korean BBQ— Berwyn Heights, Maryland
- K—Bop— Austin, Texas
- GOGI Friends— Alexandria, Virginia
- K—Scoop— Phoenix, Arizona
Best Filipino Restaurant Names
- Manila Cafe— Springfield, Virginia
- Lineage—Maui, Hawaii
- Purple Yam— New York, New York
- A Taste of the Philippines— Chicago, Illinois
Best Middle Eastern Restaurant Names
- Shouk— Washington DC
- Bowery Bungalow— Los Angeles, California
- AllSpice Restaurant— Boston, Massachusets
Best Thai Restaurants
- Glai Baan— Phoenix, Arizona
- September in Bangkok— New Haven, Connecticut
- Up Thai— New York, New York
Best Vietnamese restaurant names
- Pho Nomenal—Binghamton, New York
- What the Ph0—Duluth, Georgia
- Banh Mi Boys—New Orleans, Louisiana
- Pho King Rapidos—Denver, Colorado
Best Coffee Shop Names
- Bad Ass Coffee — Hawaii
- Cafe Grumpy—Brooklyn, New York
- Mugs Coffee Lounge
Recommended Reading: 21 Unique Tip Jar Ideas + Advice on Getting More Tips For Your Restaurant or Cafe
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