Name That Restaurant
It’s very long ago that I contemplated even the possibility of having a restaurant. Writing reviews soon disabused me of any notion that it’s either fun or easy to run a restaurant and this is why I so admire those who do it well, at whatever level they operate.
Back in the very early 1990s when I could just about imagine working in the industry, I liked very simple restaurant names like Spoon or Canteen or Fork or even Grub Street. But they have all been taken by now.
Most restaurants are named for the convenience of the local clientele but sometimes cultural differences get in the way. There are many more Thai restaurants called Phat Phuc than you might at first imagine. Soon Fatts are legion, and there is at least one Fu King Chinese Restaurant in the world, spotted in Florida. (There is a Fuk Yu Medical Centre somewhere in south-east Asis but I don’t know if it’s an outpost of our own dear HSE).
My own favourite, which I have seen with my own eyes - but failed to experience at first hand - is the gloriously named Golden Stool in north London which, despite the rather medical name, attracts people from far and wide with its exceptionally authentic Ghanaian cooking.
Continuing the gastrointestinal theme, I was sorry to see that Pu Pu Hot Pot (near Boston, I gather) has now become something quite anodyne; however, Houston in Texas can still boast an Italian family restaurant called Crappito’s. At least it had, the last time I looked. On the other hand, I do know that Wankers Country Store in Oregon is still going strong right now and they have been Tweeting about their January selection of reds in their Wankers Wine Cave.
I only have photographic evidence of a burger joint in the Yukon (it’s pretty remote out there) called McWanks and I’m pretty sure the area could not sustain a chain; unlike, of course, Dirty Dick’s which is in the… er… business of crabs, throughout Florida.
Some seriously infelicitous names don’t last long. A restaurant called Hitler’s Cross, complete with swastika and probably referencing Sanskrit, opened briefly near Mumbai. It was renamed in quite short order. Sars Oriental Cuisine in Washington State had a name change, too, when events caught up with the original.
Quite how a restaurant in Tanzania came to be called Golden Showers is probably best not contemplated in any great detail. On the other hand, one has to admire the sheer bravado in naming a Chinese establishent in rural California My Dung. Although, with a name like that, it probably didn’t become what one London restaurant rather shamelessly calls itself (on Queensway): Gold Mine.
Pronounciation is just as important as spelling, of course. The apparently most offensive food mall called Taste of Negros, located in the Phillipines, is actually a shrine to the cuisine of the Negros province. And very good it is too, I am reliably informed.
There is plenty of documentary evidence for all of the above but I have only my memory to rely upon for this final one. I am absolutely convinced that I found a listing for a café called “Samonella’s” (sic) in the Brighton area Yellow Pages in about 1976. I wonder was I hallucinating…