What are Good Restaurant Name Ideas?
Good restaurant names need to be equal parts eye-catching and unique, while also accurately conveying what a restaurant is all about — mainly what type of food people can expect to be served when they pop in for a visit. It should seem cool without trying too hard, be trendy without hopping on a bandwagon, be easy enough to spell and remember, and (this one’s extra important) not be too similar to any other restaurants or small businesses in your area. You don’t want to inadvertently send foot traffic to the competition!
The Washington Post analyzed 40,000 Chinese restaurant names in the United States and found that over one third of restaurants (15,000+) included the word China or Chinese, indicating that being descriptive is helpful for brand recognition.
With all that in mind, here are some tips to get you started on the path to discovering the right restaurant name for your new spot.
1. Write down your restaurant’s mission, vision, purpose, and core values.
Your restaurant’s mission statement is part autobiography, part north-star. It describes who you are, why you’re here, and what you plan to accomplish as a member of the restaurant community, while also acting as your guiding light for any and all business decisions that need to be made — including naming your restaurant.
Your restaurant’s mission statement can and should play a large role in choosing the right name for your restaurant.
Let’s do a little exercise. If you’ve developed a mission statement for your restaurant, have it close by; if not, that’s fine, too. Grab a pen and paper and write down the following:
The type of cuisine you’ll be offering
Any business goals you have, like being the first to serve food from a specific culture in your area or to run a zero-waste restaurant
Your restaurant’s core values
The intended personality and vibe of your restaurant
Adjectives you’d use to describe your restaurant
Your name (and the name of your business partners, if any)
Any family names that are important to you
The neighborhood or town where it will be located
The purpose of this exercise is to pull out words and phrases that describe your restaurant and may warrant inclusion in your restaurant’s name. This list will also come in handy when building out your restaurant business plan.
When you can’t think of anything else to add, read back over your list of superlatives, adjectives, and descriptors and circle your favorites. These will be the building blocks of your restaurant name.
2. Choose a name that isn’t already taken
This one’s important: Before settling on a restaurant name or logo, do your research and make sure it isn’t already taken by another restaurant or business, especially one that’s in your area.
Aside from the obvious — confusing potential customers and sending business to the competition — you may also find yourself in legal hot water if you choose a name already taken by another restaurant or business with a copyright or trademark on one or more of the terms in your restaurant’s would-be name.
Here are some resources you can use to look up business names:
Google My Business
The Yellow Pages (yep, still a thing)
The Better Business Bureau
The United States Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark database search
To learn more about copyright infringement, including what counts as copyright infringement and what doesn’t visit Copyright.gov.