How to Create the Perfect Restaurant Name

You have many choices to make in opening a restaurant. Which color should the walls be painted? Which restaurant POSWhich should you pick? Name of the restaurant is another important decision that will impact your brand.

They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but the reality is that guests These areYou will be judging your restaurant based on its name. Names should be descriptive of your concepts, food and values.

In this article we’ll cover:

The nine steps to opening a restaurant.

The life of a restaurateur is like no other, and when you do well — you do really well. What are the keys to success in your business? This guide will teach you how to arrange the thousands of moving parts and lay a foundation for success.


What is the best way to identify a restaurant?

As you brainstorm potential restaurant names for your new business, don’t just arbitrarily pick something that sounds cool. You should make sure the name reflects your company’s values, mission and guests.

Besides the actual meaning of your restaurant’s name, here are some things you should keep in mind:

  • Simple is best. If your restaurant name is too difficult to remember, say, or spell, you’re going to miss out on a lot of word-of-mouth marketing and it will be harder for folks to find you in online searches.
  • Evoke emotion.Names of some of the most memorable restaurants evoke emotion. This could be love, nostalgia, or historical.
  • Research is important before you make a commitment.Do not use restaurant names that are already trademarked. Do a quick search of trademarked restaurant names in your area by searching your Secretary of State’s website. (This is also where you’ll register your own restaurant name’s trademark once you’ve chosen a restaurant name.)

With those guidelines in mind, it’s time to get into the fun part—choosing what type of restaurant name you want. Once you’re clear about the direction you want, you will find it much easier to choose the name.

1. Your mission statement should be the basis of your choice for a restaurant.

The mission statement of your restaurant is a reflection on who you are as well as the values that you believe in. If your restaurant name doesn’t extend to those beliefs, it might be lacking the right ingredients. 

  • Harmony Cafe. The cafe, which charges a nominal fee for food and drinks, is dedicated to providing quality food to all members of the community. The name of their restaurant reflects that mission.
  • Puzzles Bakery & Cafe. Sara Pratt, the cafe’s owner opened it to provide more opportunities for people on the Autism spectrum like her sister. Named after a popular symbol of Autism awareness: the puzzle piece.
  • Bayberry Beer HaLl pays homage to a co-owner’s grandfather, who lived in a cottage surrounded by bayberry bushes, to help “keep his legacy alive,” as their website states.

Don’t have a mission statement for your restaurant yet? These ten inspiring examples will inspire you.

2. Incorporate your location into your restaurant’s name

Using part of your restaurant’s location in your name—either the street name or number, neighborhood or another landmark—is both easy to remember and it helps guests remember exactly where you’re located, like Nick’s on BroadwayProvidence, RI

3. When naming your restaurant, use humor

A funny (or punny) restaurant name can be risky—if you take the joke too far or it goes over peoples’ heads, you risk hurting your reputation. To see if your idea works, test it with different people. If your idea fails to please everyone, you can go back to square one.

4. Acknowledge your building’s history

When naming your restaurant in an historic building like the ones below, be sure to acknowledge the past tenants.

  • Post Office Cafe. Located in, you guessed it, a former post office building, this Babylon, NY restaurant goes all-in with its name and location, utilizing taglines like “the Post Office is sure to deliver every time.”
  • Alibi Lounge. The Liberty Hotel in Boston is in a former jailhouse and the hotel bar, Alibi Lounge, is fittingly located in the space that used to function as the “drunk tank.”
  • Edison. The bar/nightclub is situated in an old power plant. They chose a name to honor the man who invented the lightbulb.

5. Invoke emotion among your guests

Inviting guests into your restaurant is just like inviting them into your home—you want them to feel warm and welcomed. When you choose your restaurant name, think of it as a homecoming. Tia Maria’s in New Bedford, MA which makes guests feel like they’re being personally cooked for by their (or someone else’s) Portuguese aunt.


Changing your restaurant’s name vs. naming for the first time

While it might seem like the exact same process, there’s much more to consider if you’re renaming rather than naming your restaurant for the first time. You have more flexibility for those who are just beginning because you don’t need to define everything and it will be all new to customers.

Already established restaurants already have a reputation and a customer base. As you consider what your new name will be, make sure that you aren’t taking your restaurant’s new name in a direction that will alienate your current customers or will clash with the reputation you’ve worked hard to create. 

What this means is, don’t give your place a fancy name if it’s known around town as the best dive bar in town. Likewise, don’t choose a new name that makes it seem like the change comes with an increase in price if your affordability is what brings people through the doors.

Overhead image of a table full with two main dishes and multiple small bowls of side dishes.


22 creative restaurant names you’ll wish you thought of

Sometimes the best place to start is to see what’s already out there. You can get ideas and even eliminate options that have been taken by others while looking for restaurant names. 

These are some unique names for restaurants to inspire you. These names stand out from the sea of restaurant name choices customers see every day while they are driving down the street, or watching TV. They also reflect the owner’s personality.

Puns for restaurant names

Party Fowl, Nashville, TN

This Nashville restaurant specializes in local delicacy hot chicken, and they have varying degrees of heat levels ranging from mild to “Poultrygeist.”

Like No Udder, Providence, RI

This vegan ice cream company started out as an ice cream truck back in 2010 and was recognized as being the world’s first all-vegan soft serve ice cream truck. The owners built a strong following and opened an actual brick-and mortar location in 2016.

Basic Kneads Pizza, Denver, CO

Everyone has basic needs. Pizza is one of those. Basic Kneads Pizza operates 100% on a mobile basis and has four mobile wood fired ovens that can travel to various events in Denver.

A Salt & BatteryNew York, NY

The New York City restaurant specializes in British fish and chips. Although they try to get their ingredients from local sources, their British-style cooking methods and traditional British fryers are imported from the UK. You can also find a Cod Save The Queen T-shirt here.

Lox Stock & Bagels, West Hartford, Granby, and Bloomfield, CT

This bagel café began in 1990 by a couple with young children, and now their entire family runs three different locations. Evidently, the family takes their bagels seriously.

Thai Me Up Restaurant & BreweryJackson, WY

The Wyoming restaurant was started by a ski bum and is located close to many local ski resorts. They offer American-inspired Thai cuisine as well as traditional Thai meals. The brewery also offers 20 tap beers.

Brew’d Awakening CoffeehausLowell MA

Brew’d Awakening opened in the former mill town of Lowell, Massachusetts in 2005. Inspired by Lowell’s vibrant cultural and artistic scene, the company shifted to serving coffee and began roasting its own beans ten years later.

Names of restaurants with pop culture references

Tequila MockingbirdOcean City, MD

The Mexican restaurant and bar serves Mexican food. Its name perfectly blends their favourite spirit and their favorite book.

The Life of Pie, Ottawa, Canada

Playing off the name of the popular book Life of Pi, written by Canadian author Yann Martell, this bakery and café makes everything from scratch and their logo even involves a pie chart.

Sconehenge, Berkeley, CA

This bakery’s name, a favorite of students who attend UC Berkeley, references the English landmark Stonehenge to complement their traditional English tea scones.

The Codfather, Reno, NV

You come to me in your time of need… for fish and chips. This food truck based out of Reno, Nevada makes a play on the classic film’s name, as well as its infamous logo.

The Notorious P.I.G.Missoula (MT)

Not only is this barbecue joint notorious for their pun on the iconic rapper’s name, but they’re also notorious for their delicious BBQ meals. It’s founder, Burke Holmes, brought the best recipes from his hometown of Saint Louis, Missouri to Missoula, Montana.

Cute Restaurant Names

Pig’N PancakeSeaside, OR

As if the cuteness of the name wouldn’t be enough to attract customers, their creative pancake recipes (including sourdough, swedish, buttermilk and French batter) have earned them loyal customers who keep coming back for more.

Backyard Bowls, Los Angeles, CA

Sometimes a little humor can make a big difference. A cute restaurant name like this makes it easy to get some brand recognition, but the beauty of their signature bowls doesn’t hurt either.

Pies n’ ThighsBrooklyn, New York

Making your restaurant name a rhyme, will keep it on customers’ top of mind. With a name like Pies N’ Thighs, people are bound to come by and give it a try. 

Fancy Restaurant Names

Pot Au FeuProvidence, Rhode Island

Restaurant names in French sound the best, we all know this. Pot Au Feu takes its name from the popular French dish that is shared among families all over France. This famous dish can be enjoyed at many restaurants in Providence, Rhode Island.

Cibo MattoMansfield (Massachusetts)

Serving some of the best Italian wine and comfort food, “Cibo Matto” literally translates to “Crazy Food” and, although their food is crazy good, that restaurant name sounds a lot better in Italian.

Names of restaurants based on their location

SienaRI, Providence Smithfield, East Greenwich and Smithfield

It’s not actually located in Italy, but if you’re craving some Tuscan cuisine, Siena is your best bet at getting a meal that tastes like it came straight from the famous city it’s named after.

The Dorrance, Providence, RI

Located in the heart of downtown Providence, Rhode Island, The Dorrance is one of the most unique bars in the city, known for it’s signature cocktails and beautiful interior design. Its name comes from where? Simply the street that it’s located on, Dorrance Street.

French LaundryNapa (CA)

Recognizing the past can help you name your restaurant. For example, The French Laundry used to be a french steam laundry in the 1920s, and honoring it’s past with it’s name entices the most dignified of diners to make a reservation.

The name of your restaurant will be one of your most crucial creative branding decisions. It’s the center of your brand, how guests identify you and a part of what initially piques peoples’ interest in your restaurant. Choose your restaurant name carefully, and be sure to enlist a trusted group of people to workshop your options with—it’s an important decision that you will have to live with every day for a very long time.

Once you’ve chosen your name and picked a location for your new restaurant, the next step is to find a technology partner that lets you manage and streamline operations. Speak to one our experts today to learn more. Small Biz Sense: How it can benefit you.

Cyndy Lane

Cyndy is business journalist with a focus on entrepreneurship and small business. With over a decade of experience covering the startup and small business landscape, Cyndy has a reputation for being a knowledgeable, insightful and approachable journalist. She has a keen understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing small business owners and is able to explain them in a way that is relatable and actionable for her readers.