“ THE GARDEN OF EATIN' ”
by Rick Jones, Husband of the Minister's Wife
Businesses need a way to stand out from the crowd. Some restaurant owners make a bid for attention by choosing very clever names for their businesses, and I thought it would be fun to share with you some of those names.
I'm skipping all the vulgar jokes based on the similarities between common Asian words and crude American slang. But that doesn't eliminate Asian take-out places, like Wok and Roll, Thai Tanic, and Seoul Food. Other restaurants with “imported” cuisine include Jamaican Me Hungry and a Greek eatery, Aesop's Tables. The origin of pizza is debated [Italy? Greece? Egypt? China?], but it's sold in restaurants named Pizza My Heart and Pizza D'Action, as well as Sergeant Pepperoni's.
Another food facility moniker inspired by music is Franks for the Memories, a good way to segue to American food: the hot dog. The frankfurter may have been created in Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany [a claim disputed by residents of Coburg and Vienna], but the term “hot dog” originated in the U.S.A. – New Jersey and New York argue over which area can claim the appellation. Many Germans will tell you that what Americans call “hot dogs” are a poor imitation of true frankfurters. Not that any of that matters here, since the names I want to mention are based on another word for the food product: The Weiner's Circle and Award Weiners.
Over to seafood: my runners-up in this category were Prawn Brokers and Fishcoteque. The best was the film pun title, Frying Nemo. Certainly memorable, but it might be traumatic for the kids.
Other film / book tie-ins: Grillers in the Mist, Life of Pie, Lord of the Fries, and Tequila Mockingbird..
Mentioning movies reminds me: many years ago, I had heard of Lettuce Entertain You, and until I researched the name for this article, I had assumed it was a dinner theatre in Chicago. Visiting their website, I learned that LEY Enterprises, founded in 1971, has grown to be involved with scores of restaurants in several states. After looking through a list of 100 restaurants, I called them to verify my discovery: not one of the locations is named Lettuce Entertain You!
There is a coffee house that encourages impromptu musical performance called Espresso Yourself . Java joints have a wide range of pun-based names, like Pony Espresso, Common Grounds, Uncommon Grounds, Brews Brothers, and Brewed Awakenings. Several establishments are known by the Star Trek inspired “Bean Me Up”. There are many coffee houses run by Christians who refer to their faith with names like Sacred Grounds, Higher Grounds, and He Brews.
Austin, Texas is famous for the “heavenly”, pork-based menu of Lard Have Mercy. After looking over an online menu of food they describe as “deep-fried and dee-lish”, I hope someday I get to taste some of it. But I think their logo, a pig wearing an apron and probably cooking pork, is rather disturbing. Eat and ask no questions.
Lois told me that this article would not be complete if I did not include a truckstop restaurant that she and I drove past many times on Highway 31 in Indiana. We never did stop to find out if it was “truth in advertising”, but it's certainly hard to forget:
. . . and let's give a tip of the tall white non-Canadian toque to the Wisconsin restaurant with the name that I used as the tile of this article.
Disclaimer: I have received no products or any other consideration from any of these establishments for my mention of them in this column. But they should be aware that any tokens of appreciation will be gratefully accepted by a hungry columnist.
Except for prawns. Just not my thing.