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How to Name Your Restaurant

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. Because of this, it’s important that you choose a memorable, catchy restaurant name. To help you make this difficult decision, we’ve compiled a list of nine things to think about when coming up with cool restaurant names.

1. Incorporate Puns in Your Restaurant Name

pizza shop sign stating Pete's Za

It’s been said puns are the lowest form of humor. While this is up for debate, it’s clear that punny restaurant names are quite popular. Using puns in your restaurant name gives potential customers the impression of intelligence and humor. Who doesn’t want to be thought of as smart and funny? Puns attract attention and are easy to remember. Check out some restaurants that successfully incorporated puns into their name:


  • Burgatory - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Thai-Namite - Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Unphogettable - Mesa, Arizona
  • Vincent Van Doughnut - Clayton, Missouri
  • Baguettaboutit - Raleigh, North Carolina

2. Use Unique Spelling or Symbols in Your Restaurant Name

For modern, trendy bars, restaurants, and coffee shops, using abbreviations and symbols may be a way to set you apart from the competition. Alternative spellings are visually intriguing to potential customers and also help with branding your establishment. Here are a few restaurants that used symbols to come up with a unique restaurant name:


  • &pizza - Washington D.C.
  • CVI.CHE 105 - Miami, Florida
  • rise n°1 - Dallas, Texas
  • n/naka - Los Angeles, California
  • a(MUSE.) - Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

3. Use Alliteration and Rhymes

Using repetitive sounds or rhymes is a great way to add a fun, lighthearted element to your business. For instance, Red Robin and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts are both national chains with repetitive sounds in the names. This makes the restaurant name catchier and more fun to say, encouraging people to talk about it. Check out these alliteration restaurant names:


  • Secret Sandwich Society - Richmond, Virginia
  • Cork & Fork - Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
  • Peter's Pour House - Baltimore, Maryland
  • Salty Sow - Austin, Texas
  • Cork & Cap - Lancaster, Pennsylvania

4. Try a One Word Restaurant Name

While you may want a clever restaurant name, you don’t want to overdo it. If you make your name too complicated and guests can’t remember it, you may lose out on free word-of-mouth advertising. Many restaurants choose one word restaurant names because they come across as very modern, in addition to being easy to remember. These restaurants chose a single word to represent their business and brand:


  • Diner - Omaha, Nebraska
  • Curate - Asheville, North Carolina
  • Crust - Miami, Florida
  • Launderette - Austin, Texas
  • Gravy - Portland, Oregon

5. Use Location-Based Restaurant Names

Street sign for fifth avenue

By basing your restaurant name on your address, you make it easy for your customers to remember where you are so they can return or tell their friends to visit. This could be your entire address or just a portion, like your street name, number, or neighborhood. The following restaurants use locations in their name:


  • On Orange - Lancaster, Pennsylvania
  • Cheryl's on 12th - Portland, Oregon
  • Off Vine - Los Angeles, California
  • Famous 4th Street Delicatessen - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Nick's on Broadway - Providence, Rhode Island

6. Make Your Name a Reference to a Book or Movie

By making your restaurant name a reference to something, you can start a conversation between you and your customers. A reference to a book, song, TV show, or movie can draw in fans of the original source material as well as people who are curious due to the interesting name. Check out these restaurants that reference classic literature in their names:


  • Annabel Lee Tavern - Baltimore, Maryland
  • Butcher and the Rye - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • The Hobbit Restaurant- Ocean City, Maryland
  • Alice’s Tea Cup - New York, New York
  • Tequila Mockingbird - Ocean City, Maryland

7. Use a Different Language in Your Restaurant Name

If you're all out of ideas in the English language, why not try a different language? Using another language is an easy way to let your customers know what type of cuisine you offer. For instance, consider a Spanish name if you specialize in tapas or a French name if you serve crepes. Or simply choose a word or phrase that has meaning for you. Here are some examples:


  • Novare Res Bier Cafe - Portland, Maine
  • Aromas del Peru - Miami, Florida
  • Olio e Piu - New York, New York
  • Petit Trois - Los Angeles, California
  • Estadio - Washington D.C.

8. Ensure Your Restaurant Name is Marketable

sign stating Hamburgers Eat

Avoid using stereotypical or inappropriate language in your your restaurant name. By choosing a name that potential customers may find rude, you are limiting how well and how far you can market yourself. Also consider the length of your restaurant name and how it will translate to marketing materials.

If you restaurant name is too long, it won't work as the URL of your company website. While it’s not the first thing people think about when starting a business, your marketing strategy should be kept in mind when picking your name.

9. Use an Original Restaurant Name

Make sure your restaurant name isn't trademarked or already in use before you start printing off menus and hanging signs. The Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) is a great place to start checking if your restaurant's name, or a similar name, is federally trademarked. To register your business's name in your area, you'll need to contact the correct agency for your state, usually the Secretary of State, and fill out the necessary forms. You can also check with the Secretary of State's office to find out how to search for state trademarks and see if all or part of your restaurant's name is already registered.


Coming up with a catchy restaurant name for your new establishment can be a daunting task. Your name can draw in passersby or drive away potential customers. You want your restaurant name to reflect the tone of your restaurant as well as your own personal preferences. Of course, the final decision is up to you, and while customers might be initially intrigued by the name, they’ll stay for your delicious food and great service.

Posted in: Management & Operation | By Alyssa Burns
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