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March 19, 2012 11:43 AM   Subscribe

Alphabet Soup: Restaurant names are becoming more complicated and enigmatic. Christopher Hirst asks the experts what’s going on.
posted by Fizz (52 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
L'Idiot
posted by Confess, Fletch at 11:48 AM on March 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


wd~50? I always thought it was some sort of reference to wd-40 but like 10 better, which made me wonder why you would eat there. Turns out it is Wylie Dufresne's initials and the street address.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:50 AM on March 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Worlds collide when Alphabet Soup restraurants are based in buildings with a spelled out address name.

Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley located at Twelve Twelve Tenth Street.
posted by lstanley at 11:54 AM on March 19, 2012


New restaurant names do seem to follow distinct trends every few years, but some places around here... I don't know if they all opened around the same time or what, but bad puns abound. "Bean around the World" and "Grounds for Coffee" make me groan every time I walk past. I would support a Pun Tax on businesses that pull this shit.
posted by Hoopo at 11:58 AM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I always thought The Speckled Pig was some sort of allusion to The Quilted Giraffe.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:59 AM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


No mention of WD50?
posted by spicynuts at 11:59 AM on March 19, 2012


DC has PS7's, on Eye St.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:01 PM on March 19, 2012


You are running a metaphor, not a restaurant.
posted by The Whelk at 12:04 PM on March 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling was a fictional character played by British comedian Peter Cook throughout his career.

Sir Arthur's 35 years as a restaurateur were nothing short of disastrous. His restaurant, The Frog and Peach was a catastrophic failure, owing to its location - in the middle of a bog in the heart of the Yorkshire Moors, and its very limited menu - the "nauseating" Frog à la Peche and the "positively revolting" Peche à la Frog.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 12:07 PM on March 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


There's an actual coffee shop around here called F'Coffee. I've never been there myself.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 12:15 PM on March 19, 2012


Others, though, give a street address, but not necessarily the right street address: east London’s North Road Restaurant is on St John Street, while its near neighbour St John Bread and Wine is actually on Commercial Road. Perhaps “Commercial Bread and Wine” wouldn’t have had the right ring.

Or perhaps St John Bread and Wine is a spinoff of St John on, er, St John Street. The whole article is a real stretch: things have names, wow!
posted by ninebelow at 12:15 PM on March 19, 2012


Here in Chicago, the trend is toward conjunction instead of obfuscation: any new gastropub/charcuterie joint worth its cask-conditioned ales must lash its vaguely British name together with an ampersand. Longman & Eagle, Bangers & Lace, Blokes & Birds, Owen & Engine, Butcher & Larder, Butcher & the Burger, Bread & Wine...
posted by Iridic at 12:17 PM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


My favorite is Pho King Way near my house... pho is pronounced fuh, or at least that's close enough to order food. There are Pho King restaurants all over, and I'm guessing pretty much every single one of them knew exactly what they were doing with the name.
posted by Huck500 at 12:19 PM on March 19, 2012


Hah, we have Ox & Angela here which fits that exact pattern. (Haven't eaten there yet, but Ethnomethodologist probably has?)
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 12:20 PM on March 19, 2012


My favorite is Pho King Way near my house

I guess if you opened a branch that didn't serve pho, then you could call it No Pho King Way.
posted by carter at 12:27 PM on March 19, 2012 [18 favorites]


Edmonton has a restaurant called Corso 32. They do have an explanation for the name, but to me it just sounds like an obscure Windows component. Unhandled exception in corso32.dll.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 12:27 PM on March 19, 2012 [9 favorites]


I'm happy we're over the trend of names that sound like hot new nightclubs or gasps of air FAD! WICH! MOSH! AAH!
posted by The Whelk at 12:31 PM on March 19, 2012


Also, a lot of the 'baby talk' ones sound like Web 2.0 start-ups ...
posted by carter at 12:37 PM on March 19, 2012


This thread was made for this picture.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:39 PM on March 19, 2012


Victoria, BC has an Italian restaurant called fiamo.
Not sure if it's run by a MeFite.
posted by islander at 12:47 PM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Phat Phuc. That is all.
posted by kcds at 12:48 PM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


From the site: Despite the strange name, Phat Phuc actually translates in Vietnamese as Happy Buddha.

That kind of makes sense, actually.
posted by carter at 12:55 PM on March 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


There was a wine store that opened in Northern California last year "hilariously" called The Serial Grapist. They don't call themselves that today.
posted by Kloryne at 12:59 PM on March 19, 2012


Of course there's a place named for the Shiitake mushroom (in Clayton, Missouri, culinary capital of... that part of Missouri!)
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:01 PM on March 19, 2012


Owen & Engine

Which is starting to venture into Twin Cities gas station territory: Gas & Go, Tank & Tummy, Pump & Munch
posted by gimonca at 1:02 PM on March 19, 2012


Which is starting to venture into Twin Cities gas station territory: Gas & Go, Tank & Tummy, Pump & Munch

All of these, especially the last one, sound like bad whorehouses.
posted by madajb at 1:08 PM on March 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Thai Tanic
posted by empath at 1:15 PM on March 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


All of these, especially the last one, sound like bad whorehouses.

No listing of Midwestern gas stations is complete without mention of Kum & Go*.

* Such a name has of course inspired a multitude of pseudonyms such as "Jizz & Jet", "Ejaculate & Evacuate", "Spurt & Split", &c.
posted by invitapriore at 1:23 PM on March 19, 2012


The Whelk: "I'm happy we're over the trend of names that sound like hot new nightclubs or gasps of air FAD! WICH! MOSH! AAH!"

Where's where Was was, isn't it?



Why's it called Puzzles?
That's the puzzle!

posted by Gordafarin at 1:26 PM on March 19, 2012


And I am fond of a place called What the Pho?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:55 PM on March 19, 2012


> any new gastropub/charcuterie joint worth its cask-conditioned ales must lash its vaguely British name together with an ampersand.

It's not just Chicago, Portland is going it as well.

I can swear someone made a [food type A] & [food item B] random restaurant name generator the phenomenon has become so prevalent here.

I want a Portlandia skit just based around a sign store that specializes in helping up and coming restaurants pick out which Serif'ed and distressed Ampersand best represents the local culinary stylings.
posted by mrzarquon at 2:21 PM on March 19, 2012


The missing element, IMO: In the age of domain names, different trends have naming that results in a name translating to a unique and, as yet unclaimed, domain name. Though I'd say that the ampersand trend mentioned above either doesn't constitute one of these categories or is a poor choice: how do you represent teh ampersand in the domain name? 'And' or by just concatenating the two nouns together without a representation of the ampersand?
posted by tippiedog at 2:41 PM on March 19, 2012


which Serif'ed and distressed Ampersand

Stop quoting Chaucer, already.
posted by benzenedream at 2:43 PM on March 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


This is the first time I've ever heard the word "manageress" - please tell me it was used ironically.
posted by desjardins at 2:43 PM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Victoria, BC has an Italian restaurant called fiamo.
Not sure if it's run by a MeFite.


I ate there recently and asked about the name. It's made up. Best feature: First restaurant in Canada to have Prosecco on tap. Good food, but Il Terrazzo beats it.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 2:44 PM on March 19, 2012


I still don't get why "French Laundry" seemed to anyone to be a good name for a snooty restaurant.
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:39 PM on March 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


customers might have to overcome an initial aversion at Skin & Bones in Portland, Oregon, or Virus in Ghent, where the food can be as bizarre as the name

"Welcome to Pink Slurry! Our specials tonight...."
posted by BitterOldPunk at 4:08 PM on March 19, 2012


Opening soon: The $ & !
posted by OHenryPacey at 4:11 PM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


A friend of mine started a restaurant here in the Okanagan, and wanted to call it The Chinese Laundry for local historical reasons. I believe it was the first Chinese restaurant in Canada to honour local history, instead of following the usual Golden Dragon, Shanghai Gardens, Asian Palace trend. He asked the Chinese chef in the local hotel if he wanted to be the chef, but met strong resistance regarding the name. "Nobody is going to think it's a restaurant, etc." My friend was adamant, and the Chinese chef finally relented. The restaurant was a huge success--so much so that the chef decided to buy it and franchise the business. My friend pointed out that he could not call it The Chinese Laundry without buying the rights to the name in addition to buying the business. "What do you mean?" says the chef. "I own the trademark" says my friend. So in the end, the Chinese chef had to pay my friend $10,000 just to call his franchise The Chinese Laundry.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 4:20 PM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


My favorite is Pho King Way near my house

I like 'So Pho So Good', which is one of a large collection of pho restaurants near me.
posted by pompomtom at 4:42 PM on March 19, 2012


What the Pho? is in Bellevue WA.

Also, I really need to get to Skin & Bones, it is just around the corner from my house.
posted by mrzarquon at 4:44 PM on March 19, 2012


Heh, "trends" in restaurant names. Translation: you thought of a few categories of name, like "includes the word kitchen", then spent half an hour googling for a handful of examples that confirmed your hypothesis.

Man I hate column-fillers sometimes.
posted by dontjumplarry at 5:01 PM on March 19, 2012


customers might have to overcome an initial aversion at Skin & Bones in Portland, Oregon

My initial aversion was to the menu price of their ever-so-precious food.
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:45 PM on March 19, 2012


I still don't get why "French Laundry" seemed to anyone to be a good name for a snooty restaurant.

The name is so unpretentious it swings back to pretentious. It's like Mama's Fish House on Maui.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 6:33 PM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


In San Antonio a few years back it seemed all the new mom and pop Mexican restaurants were named "Something de Jalisco" even though all were San Antonio-style Tex-Mex joints, none were actually Jalisco-style Mexican restaurants. Have yet to figure that one out.
posted by Ranucci at 6:42 PM on March 19, 2012


In West Philadelphia there is a coffee shop called The Green Line, because it's on Baltimore Avenue, which the trolleys that nobody calls the Green Line but which are colored that way run on.

They then opened a branch a few blocks away, which was officially called The Other Green Line.

They then closed that one and opened a new one, which I call the New Other Green Line. Note that neither of the Other Green Lines are serves by the Green Line trolley. But the 42 Cafe doesn't have the same ring to it.
posted by madcaptenor at 8:17 PM on March 19, 2012


I don't really care what they name the restaurant. I just want a good meal and a pleasant environment.
posted by Fizz at 4:05 AM on March 20, 2012


OHenryPacey: "Opening soon: The $ & !"

The Buck and Bang.
posted by Gordafarin at 8:44 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


And the lower cost, pub fare only place:

!4$
posted by mrzarquon at 12:09 PM on March 20, 2012


!4$

Same as in town.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:21 PM on March 20, 2012


jenfullmoon: "French Laundry"

Well, it IS located in an old French laundry. I think it's kind of neat.
posted by Chrysostom at 2:12 PM on March 21, 2012


Well, it IS located in an old French laundry. I think it's kind of neat.

A couple examples of this I know: In Oakland, Boot and Shoe Service, so-called because they're in a former shoe-fixing place. One Mefite's brother thought it was an actual shoe-fixing place.

In Philadelphia, Rx, a former pharmacy. One of my professors who'd been there a while pointed out that he remembered when it was a pharmacy, which didn't really impress any of us and just made him look old.
posted by madcaptenor at 5:03 PM on March 21, 2012


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