Am I the only one who wonders why Golden Corral named itself Golden Corral? I guess at this point, it matters not. What’s done is done. But would the all-you-can-eat buffet chain rename itself if it had to do it all over again? The unappetizing label could be hurting business.
I’m working on an article right now about brand-building, and while it focuses mainly on digital efforts, it’s making me think about what’s in a restaurant name. I’ve interviewed thousands of foodservice folks over the years, and I’ve always been intrigued with the unusual restaurant names I come across. Independent restaurants in particular, often operated by self-admitted quirky people, are known for head-scratching names. This is not a virtue.
Some of the foodservice articles I write are targeted to culinary students (ACF’s Sizzle magazine). To them, I advise, before launching a new restaurant, labor over the name as much as the menu, and don’t settle for something tattoo-isque, personally reminiscent, whimsical, the street name/address number or the name of the chef (unless said chef is a household word, like Thomas Keller).
A good restaurant name has the opportunity to say something that sets the mission in motion. Regular social media posts easily back it up, and there’s the beginning of your marketing strategy. Make that first mission-critical connection using your most important asset—the restaurant name. Let’s observe:
Elevation Burger. Its shtick? “Ingredients Matter isn’t just a slogan; it reflects our constant focus on a superior product that makes a real difference, both to our guests as well as the environment.”
Hooters and Twin Peaks. The focus? Ahem. Hooter’s Facebook page can offer no PG explanation of its mission, but as you’d expect. The photos say it all. Twin Peaks kind of “goes there” on Facebook: “Eats Drinks and Scenic Views! Get up here for crave-able and high-quality comfort food, an awesome selection of 29-degree beer, a hearty and comfortable hunting-lodge atmosphere, and the playful, energetic Twin Peaks Girls.
Dig Inn (Boston). The Image? Something you’d expect from the word dig: “We’re a restaurant inspired by the seasons and the act of cooking. Classic recipes with lots of vegetables, expertly prepared, and sourced mindfully from farmers and producers we know and trust.”
I’ll bet all these names were selected by a committee. Before you pick a restaurant name, it’s a good idea to have a group brainstorming session that starts with a discussion of the restaurant’s mission. When you get that first piece right, the marketing will come so much easier.
Tell me what you think.