Practical tips to choosing good and unique names for restaurants

restaurant front

What’s in a name? Quite a bit, it turns out. Sure, your food is the most important factor. And, along with excellent service, it’s what keeps customers coming back. But the name matters – no one takes note of dull or drab names. You want people to remember you, even if they’re only walking past the restaurant and making a mental note.  Plus, you’ve planned every little detail, from the menu to the restaurant’s ambience. It’s only fitting that you spend time thinking up a name that represents the best of your new spot.  With that in mind, we’ve put together some handy tips for names for restaurants and how to land one that pleases everyone.

Quick links
What are good names for restaurants?
Starting points when choosing a name
The restaurant naming game

What are good names for restaurants?

Good names for restaurants can come from anywhere. Indeed, some are so popular that they’re used more than once. There are over 600 independent pubs in the UK called The Red Lion, while some restaurants are named after the famous chefs who opened them (we’re looking at you Gordon Ramsay Bar & Grill).

But what good restaurant name can you use if you’re not a pub or don’t have a famous chef running the kitchen? Naming your spot after relevant landmarks or areas in your neighbourhood is one way to go. For instance, if you’re along the river or on the coast, calling your spot something like The Pier Bistro or “The Riverside Cafe” might be the way to go. 

Starting points when choosing a name

Here are some big-picture things to get clear on that will help you come up with the ideal restaurant name for your project:

Take your time

You might be eager to open your restaurant and start serving diners as soon as possible. But avoid any temptation to open the doors if you’re not entirely sure about the name. Running a restaurant means you’ll need to focus on marketing, which will involve using the name across different platforms, both digital and print. Not to mention, it will sit above your restaurant.

The last thing you need is a change of heart shortly after opening. It could mean all those marketing materials are no longer usable as you go through rebranding and are potentially left out of pocket. Good restaurant names last the test of time. Pick the right one, and it’ll be a while before you find yourself rebranding. 

Keep it short, simple and catchy

Simplicity always wins when thinking of names for restaurants. Overcomplicating things or trying to be too smart will usually result in missing the target. You might understand the meaning behind a clever name, but your diners probably won’t. 

Choosing names for restaurants that are easy to pronounce and remember means people won’t have issues saying it, no matter where they come from. Plus, it’s helpful for word-of-mouth marketing, as previous guests will instantly remember the name when describing it to friends and family. 

Write down important info about your restaurant

From the mission statement to its vision and purpose, write down all the key attributes that make your restaurant unique. Summarising this information will give you a clearer indication and might just offer some insight into how to name your spot. 

Consider aspects like the type of cuisine you’ll offer, the restaurant’s core values, specific goals, and its location. Then jot down some adjectives that best describe the restaurant, from its look and feel to the culture you want to set. From here, you’ll likely find some words and phrases that put you on your way to some exciting restaurant name ideas. 

Think about your guests

What emotions do you want to invoke from guests in your restaurant? Should they feel like they’re in an edgy, cool spot all about the style? Or do you want them to feel cosy while enjoying some home cooking? 

Your restaurant’s name should match its style, which is reflected in the dining experience you’d like guests to have while dining. You want to build positive relationships with guests, and having a name that evokes the emotions they feel while dining can go a long way to creating regular diners at your restaurant.

Be authentic

It’s easy to look at other restaurants for inspiration and perhaps lean too heavily on them. There’s nothing wrong with exploring what others do, but you should aim to be authentic with your restaurant’s name. The goal is to create something unique that sets itself apart. 

Diners will be able to tell if your spot has its own personality. Ultimately, a good restaurant name should be eye-catching yet unique while conveying what the restaurant is all about. Being descriptive can help, too, as guests don’t need to overthink the cuisine you offer.

Talk to the community

Restaurants are often beacons of their community, a place where neighbourhood residents can go to enjoy local dining. Even if the aim is to go big, there will always be that community spirit led by local diners, no matter how popular your restaurant becomes. 

Therefore, look for inspiration from the people who are about to become your guests. Tap into your community and ask them to vote on a selection of names you’ve listed. Their input might just help you settle on a final name for the restaurant.

AI and name generators
If you’re stuck thinking of a name, why not make use of name generators and even artificial intelligence (AI)? Some websites exist to help you name your business, while others are geared specifically towards naming new restaurants.
Then there’s AI. Embracing technology can add a modern twist to your restaurant-naming journey. Generative AI uses algorithms to suggest unique and catchy names based on specific inputs, such as cuisine type or location.
It’s an efficient way to get a wide range of options, fast. Need some help? Let’s say you’re a Mexican restaurant based in Shoreditch, London. You could ask AI tools like ChatGPT something along the lines of, “I’m about to open a Mexican restaurant in Shoreditch with an emphasis on sustainability. Can you suggest some restaurant names?”

We asked it that exact question and it came back with:

  • Verde Vida – Verde translates to ‘green’ in Spanish, symbolising your restaurant’s emphasis on sustainability, and Vida means ‘life’. This name suggests a vibrant and lively ambiance
  • Shoreditch Salsa – A playful name that incorporates the location and a popular element of Mexican cuisine
  • Tierra Taco – ‘Tierra’ means ‘Earth’ in Spanish, subtly highlighting your restaurant’s sustainability

But remember, while AI can provide inspiration, it doesn’t replace human judgement. So consider any suggestions as a starting point, and use your knowledge of your restaurant’s unique attributes and values to refine and select the perfect name. As always, authenticity wins.

The restaurant naming game

Finding a unique restaurant namer is arguably one of the most important parts of getting started. For some, it comes straight away, while others go right up until opening before landing on a name. With the restaurant name ideas in our guide, you can start to think about ways to find the best names for restaurants and begin a legacy that sees your spot become the must-visit destination in town.