On the Line / Marketing / How to Choose the Right Restaurant Name (+ 118 Great Examples)

How to Choose the Right Restaurant Name (+ 118 Great Examples)

Make your restaurant name something eye-catching and memorable.

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As a new restaurant owner, you’re faced with tons of key business decisions before you even open your doors to the public — from developing your restaurant branding and logo to writing your mission statement and core values, and from choosing your floor plan and kitchen layout to designing your restaurant menu.

And that’s not even all of them! Of the many decisions you’ll make when opening a restaurant, the most important is arguably your new restaurant’s name. And, as many restaurateurs know, this can sometimes be the hardest part. 

You want something memorable that’ll help you stand out from the 1 million restaurants in America, but you also need a name that represents your brand and describes your concept in a manner succinct and engaging enough to pique the public’s interest.

In this piece, we’ll walk you through:

  • Things to consider when naming a restaurant.

  • Restaurant name ideas and restaurant name list to inspire you.

  • Helpful resources for new restaurateurs, including the steps to copyright or trademark your new restaurant's name.

How Do I Choose a Restaurant Name?

Here's a brief overview of how to choose a restaurant name or start gathering ideas. 

  • Write down your restaurant’s mission, vision, purpose, and core values. 

  • Use a restaurant name generator to spark new ideas. 

  • Ask your community for restaurant name ideas.

  • Be descriptive and use your location.

Some folks get their start on an Easy Bake Oven™ in a childhood kitchen, while others’ passion for food and hospitality gets ignited by a mentor at an impactful first job. However they got here, the restaurant industry has become home to over 15.3 million American workers, many of whom hope or plan to open up their own spot one day.

Naturally, many restaurateurs regard their first restaurant as their baby: the product of a lifetime of dreams, hopes, and wishes. As such, their first foray into restaurant ownership deserves nothing short of the perfect name. 

As we touched on earlier, a lot goes into choosing the right restaurant name.


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What are Good Restaurant Names?

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 (we’re looking at you, brands whose restaurant names are too cool for vowels), 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: 

To learn more about copyright infringement, including what counts as copyright infringement and what doesn’t visit Copyright.gov.

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3. Use a restaurant name generator to spark new ideas. 

Can’t get your creative juices flowing? Believe it or not, restaurant name generators can lend a helping hand. If you think you’re above it, consider this fun fact: Donald Glover (a.k.a. Childish Gambino) got his stage name from a Wu-Tang name generator.

Here are five great name generators for you to play around with. Some ask for guidance in the form of keywords (have your mission statement list handy), while others just assemble random combinations of words. 

Restaurant Name Generators

While some of the suggested names and combinations these generators spit out will be completely silly and unusable, they’ll help you get the ball rolling and narrow down what kind of name you are (and aren’t) looking for. Who knows, you may even find the perfect restaurant name hiding in the results. 

4. Ask your community for restaurant name ideas

If you’re looking for inspiration, or perhaps a tie-breaker on two restaurant name ideas, ask the public for their input. If they end up picking the name you run with, they’ll be much more likely to support your business and promote it to their family and friends — after all,  they helped you pick your name! Here are a few ways to solicit feedback on your name from your community:

  • Post a public poll on your new restaurant’s Facebook and Instagram pages. (You may need to pay a little to advertise this poll to the masses, since you likely won’t have a big following of your own just yet.)

  • If you don’t have a list of people to ask, SurveyMonkey’s Target Audience is a great paid resource. Write the questions you’d like answered — like “Which restaurant name do you like better” — and SurveyMonkey will distribute them to predetermined target groups or included as a bonus question on another company’s survey.

  • Send a questionnaire via snail mail to members of the community around your new restaurant’s location asking for their opinion on your restaurant’s future name. 

To ensure you get responses, you can sweeten the pot with an incentive or two. Consider raffling off a free meal on opening night, inviting the decisive voter in for a ribbon-cutting ceremony and photo op, or naming a menu item after the respondent who suggests the best name.

It can also be helpful to look to other restaurants for inspiration, especially those that seem to share your restaurant’s values or vibe. And on that note, let’s look at some lists — from cool restaurant names to clever restaurant names and everything in between — to help you brainstorm.

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118 Real, Creative Restaurant Name Ideas to Inspire You

When choosing a name for your new concept, there are a number of directions you could go in. From puns and plays on words to pop culture references, we’ve compiled restaurant names in a variety of categories to provide you with inspiration as you start spitballing, brainstorming, and pitching ideas to your team.

Unforgettable and Clever Restaurant Names

1. Killer Pizza from Mars — Oceanside, CA

2. Dubious Clams Brewing Company — Excelsior Springs, MO

3. The Drunken Taco — Fort Lauderdale & Coral Square, FL

4. Sammie's — Austin, TX

5. un·cooked — Chicago, IL

6. Water Pig BBQ — Pensacola Beach, FL

7. Fry the Coop — Chicago, IL

8. Egg Slut — Los Angeles, CA

9. Call Your Mother: A Jew-ish Deli — Washington, D.C.

10. Foulmouthed Brewing — Portland, ME

11. Old Bag of Nails - 5 Locations in Ohio

12. Odd Duck — Austin, TX

13. Ltd Edition Sushi – Seattle, WA

14. Promiscuous Fork — San Diego, CA

15. The Catbird Seat — Nashville, TN

16. Hot Chix – Boston, MA

17. Obed and Isaac's — Peoria, IL

18. Fat Baby — Boston, MA

19. Plan B Burger — West Hartford, CT

20. Bun Huggers Old Fashion Hamburgers — Flagstaff, AZ

21. Spanked Puppy — Colchester, VT

22. Holy Smokin Butts BBQ — Tucson, AZ

23. Tandem Coffee + Bakery - Portland, ME

24. Mr. & Mrs. Bun – Miami, FL

25. Phlavz — Chicago, IL

Rhyming and Alliterative Restaurant Names

26. Curry in a Hurry — New York, NY

27. Peg Leg Porker — Nashville, TN

28. The Angry Avocado — The Dalles, OR

29. Jajaja — New York, NY

30. Pork on a Fork — Phoenix, AZ

31. Mama Mai’s Noodles — Stevens Point, WI

32. Patati Patata — Montreal, Canada

33. No Name Restaurant — Boston, MA

34. Girl and the Goat — Chicago, IL

35. GRILLRILLA — Hanover, PA

36. Leaping Lizard Cafe — Virginia Beach, VA

37. He’s Not Here Bar — Chapel Hill, NC

38. 2 Dudes Brew & Que — Monroe, LA

39. Dough Doughnuts — New York, NY

40. Buck & Bull — Pittsburgh, PA

41. Lyla Lila – Atlanta, GA

Restaurant Names That Are Pop Culture References

42. Cookie Monstah — Boston, MA

43. Goldilox Bagels — Medford, MA

44. India Jones — Los Angeles, CA

45. The Slaw Dogs — Pasadena, CA

46. The Lockhart Bar (Harry Potter book/film series) — Toronto, Canada

47. 16 Handles (Sixteen Candles: 1984 film) — New York, NY, and others

48. Tequila Mockingbird (To Kill a Mockingbird: 1960 book) — New Canaan, CT

49. Life of Pie (Life of Pi: 2002 Yann Martel novel) — Ottawa, Canada

50. Lord of the Fries (Lord of the Flies: 1954 novel) — Melbourne, Australia

51. The Glass Onion (“Glass Onion:” 1968 Beatles song) — Falmouth, MA  When the owners’ 2-year-old son suggested that the restaurant be named after one of his favorite Beatles songs, “Glass Onion,” they couldn’t say no.

52. Pita Pan (Peter Pan: 1904 play and later Disney movie) — New York, NY

53. Planet of the Crepes (Planet of the Apes: 1968 novel and later movie & TV show) — Tucson, AZ

54. Thai Tanic (Titanic, 1997 film) — Washington, D.C.

55. Santa Baby Bar (“Santa Baby,” 1953 Eartha Kitt song) — Chicago, IL

56. Jekyll & Hyde Club (Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde: 1886 novella) — New York, NY

57. BeetleHouse (Beetlejuice: 1988 film) — Los Angeles, California; New York, NY and Washington, D.C.

58. Rock Lobster (“Rock Lobster,” 1979 B-52s song) - Chandler, AZ

59. The Holy Grail Pub (Monty Python and the Holy Grail: 1975 film) — Plano, TX

60. Oliver's Twist – Seattle, WA

Funny and Punny Restaurant Names

61. How Ya Dough'n - Boca Raton, FL

62. Cheesy Does It — Saratoga, NY

63. Bizzy B Cakes — Albuquerque, NM

64. The Dairy Godmother — Alexandria, VA

65. Kale Me Crazy — Atlanta, GA

66. Nacho Problem — Durban, South Africa

67. Nothing Bundt Cakes — Texas-based with locations nationwide

68. Lettuce Eat — Monroeville, PA

69. Juan More Taco — Fredericksburg, VA

70. Wild Thyme Gourmet — Highlands, NC

71. Hip Stirs Coffee House — Brookville, OH

72. What the Pho — Bellevue, WA

73. Divine Pastabilities — San Diego, CA

74. Rolling in Dough Bread Company — Moss Bluff, LA

75. Bite Mi Asian Kitchen — Long Beach, CA

76. Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises — Chicago, IL

77. Brew’d Awakening Coffeehaus — Lowell, MA

78. Pho With Us — Austin, TX

Restaurant Names by Cuisine

If you're looking for inspiration to name a restaurant in a specific cuisine, here's some inspiration from a few of our favorites. These range from punny to clever to descriptive and showcase their individual food category.

Best Italian Restaurant Names

84. Earth, Wind, and Flour — Santa Monica, CA

85. Pane e Vino — Providence, RI

86. L'unico — Portland, OR

87. Semolina - Red Bank, NJ

88. Piano, Piano — Toronto, Canada

Best Mexican and Latin American Restaurant Names

89. El Jardin - San Diego, CA

90. Uno Mas Taquiza — Portland, OR

91. Bueno y Sano — Various locations in Massachusetts

92. Havana Rumba, Louisville, KY

93. Quiero Cafe - Portland, ME

94. Juan in a Million — Austin, TX

95. Zocalo – Sacramento, CA

Best Chinese Restaurant Names

96. Ma's House — Laguna Hills, CA

97. Mei Mei — Boston, MA Mei Mei means “little sister” in Chinese

98. A Single Pebble — Burlington, VT

Best Spanish Restaurant Names

99. Toro — Boston, MA

100. Casa Mono & Bar Jamón — New York, NY

101. Bar Raval — Toronto, Canada

Best Japanese Restaurant Names

102. Sakura Japanese Restaurant — Christchurch, New Zealand

103. Ichigo Ichie — Montreal, QC  The Japanese idiom “ichigo ichie” describes the concept of treasuring the moment because it’s fleeting

Best Seafood Restaurant Names

104. Codfather — Reno, NV

105. Frying Nemo — Northern Territory, Australia

106. Neptune Oyster — Boston, MA

107. La Mar — Miami

Best Indian Restaurant Names

108. Ghee Indian Kitchen — Miami, FL

109. Badmaash — Los Angeles, CA Badmaash means mischievous in Hindi

110. Tikkaway — New Haven, CT

Best German Restaurant Names

111. Wunderbar — Covington, KY

112. Hollerbach’s Willow Tree Café – Sanford, FL

Best Jamaican Restaurant Names

113. Just Jerks (Ena's Jamaican Grill) — Cincinnati, OH

114. Jamaican Patty — Springfield, MO

115. Rasta Pasta — Toronto, Canada

Best Thai Restaurant Names 

116. Thai Basil  — Manchester Center, VT

117. Jitlada — Los Angeles, CA It’s named after a royal palace in Bangkok

118. DakZen  — Somerville, MA According to the Harvard Crimson, “The restaurant’s name breaks down to “dak,” a term used to describe enjoying food so much that “eating” is not sufficient to describe the experience, and “zen,” meaning noodles

Things to Do After You’ve Chosen a Restaurant Name

Once you settle on a name for your new restaurant (Congrats!), you’re ready to get movin’ and shakin’ opening it! Check out the helpful resources from Toast to make sure you’re starting your journey to restaurant ownership off on the right foot.

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