How to Choose a Restaurant Name

Restaurant Name

Café and restaurant names have always been influenced by evolving trends as much as any element of modern marketing. Although trends and fads will come and go, a suitable business name will endure the test of time and could also prove to be your most powerful branding tool.

What’s in a name, and which popular techniques are employed in this process?

Where to begin?

One popular technique to use when researching a good restaurant name is the location or region where your business is situated. For example, if your restaurant or café is located near to a building which used to be an old factory or site of cultural importance, then why not incorporate this into the name. ‘The shoe factory’ may not sound particularly appetizing to prospective customers but the locals will surely remember it! With word of mouth still vital to the success of a local enterprise, anything that you can use to stoke debate and get people talking about your establishment will have positive impact on number of visitors.

Don't feel that you can't draw inspiration from existing names, this practice might just prove to be the catalyst in jogging the 'think tank' and which sets your creative juices flowing. There are also some exemplary names to be found in the list of Australia’s top 100 restaurants, as voted for by the nation’s top chefs and restaurateurs.

Another more liberal approach to finding a name is to sit down with a pen, paper and your own pensive thoughts. Begin by thinking about the food you’ll serve, the type of atmosphere you want to create, and even abstract objects that you might associate with an atmosphere, location or specific dish that you remember fondly. Strong imagery and memorable dining experiences, can provide the impetus for a productive brainstorming session.

Restaurant Themes


A strong restaurant theme can be reflected in your menu, décor, service and personnel. You can also incorporate the theme into your website design, extending into any available marketing avenues such as leaflets and promotions. Chinese restaurants commonly offer instant recognition in their names such as ‘Fortune Fountain’ and ‘The New Great Wall’ and leave no doubt as to the nature of their food. If such a name has the power to conjure images of richly-flavoured delicacies, why not take advantage of this effortless technique which speaks so clearly to the hungry or even slightly peckish.

Reflect your theme with a personal choice of dining chairs, and perhaps stylish and elegant menu holders will better suit your theme than other more contemporary examples.

The Pun

It’s nearly impossible to discuss restaurant names without briefly mentioning a couple of ‘pun-tastic’ restaurant names such as ‘Thai-tanic’ and the unashamedly palpable ‘Codfather’. Although many will tire of this wordplay; the fact remains that using puns can prove surprisingly successful in cementing a restaurant’s reputation. If the aim is to create a memorable name which sticks in the mind, this could be a useful option to consider at least.

Pub Names


Pub names are a great example of how to achieve a long lasting, memorable title, with some distinct but often abstract names.

Some classics from England include ‘The Drunken Duck’, and ‘Moderation Inn': both thought-provoking, relevant and hard to forget.

Borrowing from this simple technique is not a bad way to begin your research, especially if there is a historic pub near you which trades on a relevant street or Town name.

Leading the way

The world’s 50 best restaurant list from 2015 gives us an insight into how a name encapsulates the essence of a restaurant, the menu, approach to ingredients and theme. ‘El Celler de Can Roca’ sits proudly on top of the list, and stands out for its combination of consummate research and food initiatives but also its ability to stay true to its roots.

In Australia, the list of the top ten restaurants from 2015 contains names of simple elegance such as ‘Quay’ and ‘Sepia’ which reflect the theme and menu perfectly. The prime examples here are ‘Rockpool': with a heavy focus on seafood and beef, and ‘Vue de Monde’ with a contemporary French menu and grand dining experience.

Yelp also released a list of the top 100 places to eat in Australia for 2015 which includes some more exemplary names. A special mention goes to ‘Chin Chin’ in Melbourne (6th place on the list) and ‘Caffiend’ in Cairns (91st place). They make perfect sense in the context and play on traditional and sometimes onomatopoeic phrases such as 'chin chin' which are instantly memorable and globally recognised.

Restaurant name

Family heritage

Restaurateurs will benefit from using a family name with a long history of service and traditional food in the community. In some cases a surname may be enough to carry a restaurant’s reputation, if already identified by the locals.

Respecting traditional flavours and long lost recipes, could be a way to offer a unique menu: like an old family heirloom, an old recipe can be most precious, personal and prized: much like a restaurant name.

Test it out

It is vital that you test the name of your restaurant among friends and family who will give you honest feedback. When you have a name which is easy to pronounce and that resonates well with the majority of your audience, then you’re on the right path. Social media and blogs can also be a suitable proving ground for your potential name, as some people are only too willing to express their thoughts online and join the debate. A little free research here can only help you further.

The bottom line

In summary, we recommend picking a name which is instantly likable, memorable, and easy to say. Avoid clichés as best you can and take advantage of any point of interest or historical event which can be linked to your business to give you greater exposure.

If you are in the process of preparing for a new restaurant opening, check out the top 2016 restaurant trends for a good idea of what to expect this year. Furthermore, keep on top of restaurant trends ahead of your competitors, by taking a moment to read our tips on restaurant design which explores the correlation between ambiance, décor and commercial success.

Hit us up online for more essential catering tools and equipment to enhance your enterprise.

By Jeff Gibson

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