You have finally decided to take the plunge and become a restaurant owner. You’ve likely been daydreaming for years about decor, restaurant menu ideas and beverages, and are now faced with the daunting task of having to come up with a good restaurant name that isn’t already taken.
Or, perhaps in the rush of opening your restaurant a few years back, you settled on a name that you never really loved in the interest of time. Another possibility is that after some time in business your restaurant’s mission and ethos has evolved to a place where your name doesn’t make sense like it used to.
There are all kinds of reasons why you might need to come up with some cool restaurant names (and maybe some restaurant names and logos combinations if you’re really getting ambitious!).
Whatever your reason, here’s what you need to know before diving into creating or changing your restaurant’s name so that you’ll end up with something that might just stick for life.
Can’t I Just Use a Restaurant Names Generator?
Yep, pop ‘restaurant names generator’ into Google and you’ll get a ton of results. While it’s tempting to just use one of the dozens of name generators that show up in a quick internet search, there’s one major downfall. “The name of your restaurant is probably the first impression new customers will have of your establishment and your brand. Customers may not judge you on the quality of your kitchen equipment, but they will judge your name,” explains Webstaurant Store. Do you really want to leave that important decision up to an algorithm?
Sure, if you’re really blocked and are just looking for somewhere to get started, try tinkering around with a could of restaurant name generators and see what comes up, but know that they should go through layers and layers of refinement before really becoming workable. Your restaurant’s name is one place where you should really consider investing in branding pros if you have the option.
Changing Your Restaurant’s Name vs. Naming For The First Time
While it might seem like the exact same process, there’s much more to consider if you’re renaming rather than naming your restaurant for the first time. For those just starting out, you have a lot more freedom because everything is still being defined and will all be new to your customers.
Restaurants that are already in the game have their existing reputation and customer base to think about. As you consider what your new name will be, make sure that you aren’t taking your restaurant’s new name in a direction that will alienate your current customers or will clash with the reputation you’ve worked hard to create. What this means is don’t give your place a fancy name if it’s known around town as the best dive bar in town or a name that makes it seem like the change comes with an increase in price if your affordability is what brings people through the doors.
Inspiration Station: A Restaurant Names List
Sometimes the best place to start is to see what’s already out there. By perusing what others have done in search of restaurant name ideas, you can both get inspired and eliminate possibilities that are already taken in one fell sweep. To get you started, here are a few unique restaurant names. Not only do they stand out among the sea of restaurant names that customers are inundated with every day as they drive down the street or watch TV, but they also show that the owners have a sense of humor, too, which never hurt anyone.
Basic Kneads Pizza • Denver, Colorado
We all have our basic needs, and pizza is definitely one of them. Basic Kneads Pizza is 100% mobile and consists of four mobile wood fired ovens traveling at events throughout metro Denver.
Like No Udder • Providence, Rhode Island
This vegan ice cream company started out as an ice cream truck back in 2010 and was recognized as being the world’s first all-vegan soft serve ice cream truck. After cultivating a loyal following, owners opened a permanent brick and mortar location in early 2016.
Party Fowl • Nashville, Tennessee
This Nashville restaurant specializes in local delicacy hot chicken, and they have varying degrees of heat levels ranging from mild to “Poultrygeist.”
A Salt & Battery • New York, New York
This New York City establishment specializes in traditional British fish and chips. The try as much as possible to source their ingredients locally, but their cooking techniques and their traditional British fryers were brought over from the UK. This is also the perfect place to pick up a Cod Save The Queen t-shirt.
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Lox Stock & Bagels • West Hartford, Granby and Bloomfield, Connecticut
This bagel café began in 1990 by a couple with young children, and now their entire family runs three different locations. Clearly, they take their bagels seriously.
Life of Pie • Ottawa, Canada
Playing off the name of the popular book Life of Pi, written by Canadian author Yann Martell and set in Canada, this Canadian bakery and café makes everything from scratch and their logo even involves a pie chart.
Thai Me Up Restaurant & Brewery • Jackson, Wyoming
This Wyoming restaurant is nearby local ski resorts and founded by a ski bum. Their menu is American influenced modern Thai cuisine, as well as classic Thai dishes. They also brew beer and have 20 craft beers on tap.
Brew’d Awakening Coffeehaus • Lowell, Massachusetts
Brew’d Awakening opened in the former mill town of Lowell, Massachusetts in 2005. Ten years later, inspired by the thriving cultural and art scene in the city, they started to roast their own coffee, and now have three different roasts available at a time.
Wild Thyme Café • Smithville, Tennessee
At this Tennessee café, they serve up healthy options, many of which are organic or sourced locally. They are sure to offer gluten-free and vegan options, and clearly, love a good food pun.
Tequila Mockingbird • Ocean City, Maryland
This Mexican bar and grill serves authentic Mexican cuisine and its name perfectly combines their favorite spirit with their favorite book.
How To Come Up With A Restaurant Name That Isn’t Used
While it might seem daunting to come up with a name for your restaurant that isn’t used anywhere else in the world, it can all be a little easier than you might think.
First, consider naming your restaurant after yourself, especially if you have a unique name, or after someone in your family. Another option is naming your restaurant after its location. If you’ve come up with a name you absolutely love but find out that it’s taken, consider adding the name of your restaurant’s city to it in order to make it your own. The history of your restaurant and it’s building is another great place to start. If your eatery is in a historic building, brush up on its history to see if anything stands out to you as a possible name. As the Balance notes, “The French Laundry, in Napa Valley, California is one of the country’s most esteemed restaurants. Its name stems from the fact that the restaurant once housed a French steam laundry during the 19th century.”