Seven ideas for naming your restaurant

By Diane Chiasson

When it comes to naming a restaurant, one needs to give as much thought to it as one would in naming their child. It’s a name that you will use for the lifetime of the business. What you name your restaurant can contribute to the success of your restaurant. That single name will help you establish the core theme and identity of your business, as well as build your brand awareness.

First and foremost, you must determine your target market. Whether you are looking to attract families, the business crowd, the jet setters, the baby boomers or the cool hipsters, your name should be something relatable to your core customer base. Second, your name needs to represent your brand and what type of dining experience you wish to offer. Last, make sure the name is easy to pronounce (customers will not want to dine at a restaurant they can’t say), easy to spell and easy to remember.

Diane Chiasson, FCSI, President of Chiasson Consultants Inc., a restaurant and foodservice consultancy firm in Toronto, offers these helpful ideas on how to come up with a name for your new operation:

1. Name it after an address

One of the bigger trends for naming restaurants today is to use the address of your operation. For example, naming your restaurant “868” because it resides on 868 ABC Street. This is ideal as it helps people remember your location, but not so ideal if you have plans to expand to a second location or to franchise your operation.

2. Name it after a building

Another big trend is to name a restaurant after what the building of the restaurant used to be. For example, if the restaurant used to be a steam room, calling the restaurant “The Steam Room.” This is a good idea as you can incorporate elements of a steam room as well as some of the building’s history into the design and décor of your restaurant, and market to tourists. However, make sure that the building and the food you serve makes sense. For example, if you specialize in Japanese food, calling your restaurant The Steam Room might not be so effective!

3. Name it after your signature item

If you specialize in one type of food, consider incorporating your signature item into the name of your restaurant. For example, a restaurant that mainly sells a lot of hot dogs might call itself “House of Hot Dogs.” Not only will this help identify your restaurant for exactly what it sells, but it will also help improve your rankings in Internet search engines.

4. Name it after an ethnicity

If your restaurant specializes in a type of ethnic cuisine, it makes sense to give your restaurant an ethnic name – just make sure it can be phonetically translated into an easy-to-pronounce English word, and that customers are able to easily figure out what type of cuisine you serve. Also, beware that while the name might translate to something meaningful in your own language, it might not always sound appetizing or inviting as an English word. (The Chinese restaurant Fu King comes to mind!)

5. Use a clever, witty pun

One of the best ways to grab attention is to come up with a clever pun for your restaurant name. A clever name can also help ramp up profits, as you can market your name/brand on T-shirts, caps, aprons and other retail merchandise for sale at your restaurant.

6. Name it after yourself

One of the more traditional trends is to name the restaurant after yourself or a relative, like “Momma’s Pasta.” This is a good idea if you have a great story to tell or a larger-than-life personality, and works better if the person the restaurant is named for is actually at the restaurant. Eponymously named restaurants also help to create better personal relationships with customers, as it evokes the feeling that you are inviting your customer into your own home.

7. Adding the type of operation to the name

It is always a good idea to add some identifying words to your restaurant name that will help customers determine what type of operation you have. Use words like café, bistro, pub, dessert bar, diner, brasserie, bar and grill, or fast food joint to attract the right crowd.

About the author:

Diane Chiasson, FCSI, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc., has been helping restaurant, foodservice, hospitality and retail operators increase sales for over 25 years. She is recognized as one of the best restaurant consultants in Toronto. Her company provides innovative and revenue-increasing foodservice and retail merchandising programs, interior design, branding, menu engineering, marketing and promotional campaigns, and much more. Contact her at 416-926-1338, toll-free at 1-888-926-6655, or visit