Ask Ann: What Is the Story with Restaurant Names These Days?

Trends with restaurant names are changing.

Read all of our Ask Ann questions.


What is the story with restaurant names these days? I guess the days of simple ones like “Al’s Place” are over.


THESE MONIKERS DEFINITELY FOLLOW TRENDS. And lately, restaurateurs are shooting for creative names that express a theme or “mission.” I recently talked to a chef who says he’s gone through 50 potential names for his restaurant-tobe. He feels the pressure to come up with something catchy and original.

Some recent-ish area openings show alliteration and a nod to the space and/or menu or cooking source: Birch + Butcher, Glass + Griddle, Char’d, Wild Roots, and Oak (replacing Smyth at the Iron Horse Hotel). Brandywine in Cedarburg is named after a type of heirloom tomato. Fauntleroy, the modern French joint in the Third Ward, gets its handle from the cartoon character Donald Duck, whose middle name is Fauntleroy. The owner of vegan Celesta has said she took the name because of its connection to the stars and a percussive instrument. For others, the name is more personal. “Ca’Lucchenzo” – the new East Tosa pasta place, incorporates the names of the owners’ two dogs, Lucca and Enzo.

I don’t think anyone in MKE has reached the pinnacle of inventiveness. My favorite is that of a breakfast/lunch spot in Brooklyn, called Carthage Must Be Destroyed. I want to call to just to hear someone answer the phone, “Hello, Carthage Must Be Destroyed. Can I help you?”

As for the dearth of basic names, just like in fashion and history, they’ll be back.

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“Ask Ann” appears in the September 2019 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

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Ann Christenson has covered dining for Milwaukee Magazine since 1997. She was raised on a diet of casseroles that started with a pound of ground beef and a can of Campbell's soup. Feel free to share any casserole recipes with her.