The Making of a Restaurant

Friday, June 14, 2002

On a Google search for "clever restaurant names," this site holds an impressive second place. Number one belongs to a paper, titled "Onomastic Sobriquets in the Food and Beverage Industry," that was presented to both the Congress of the Social Sciences and Humanities and the Canadian Society for the Study of Names last year.

The paper doesn't reveal anything astonishing -- "The decision of what to name a restaurant can be as critical as what is on the menu because it is one of the first and lasting impressions customers receive." No kidding? -- but it's worth a read for its extensive collection of clever restaurant names. My favorite is Shang Chai, a triply punny name for a Kosher Chinese restaurant. That, and a lawyer/gay bar called Hung Jury.

We're both fans of the pun, so we'll be tempted to employ one when picking a name. A clever one will stick in the head of those who appreciate that kind of thing, though I have a suspicion that's a smaller crwod than we'd like to admit. Then again, a name should evoke the mood of the restaurant, and a pun can betray that responsibility.

Or, we could always go the self-reflexive route. YANI: The Onomastic Sobriquet.

Thursday, June 13, 2002

Why we should keep our waiters away from the funny pages, third in a series:

Drawing a Crowd comic
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Wednesday, June 12, 2002

From the "it's funny because it's true, probably" department:

Line Cook Learns Leaving Restaurant Industry Not That Easy
SAN MARCOS, TX -- Eric Weaver, a recently hired line cook at Cactus Jack's, is finding it extremely difficult to extricate himself from the restaurant industry, the 24-year-old aspiring musician said Monday. "Just when I think I've made a clean break, they pull me back in," said Weaver, who in April vowed never to work another restaurant position after quitting his dishwashing job at a local Denny's. "When the manager said, 'Welcome to the Cactus Jack's family,' it gave me icy chills."
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Tuesday, June 11, 2002

The New York Times Magazine this Sunday listed the start-up costs for a handful of businesses, including a Park Slope restaurant, Luce.

We've known all along that start-up costs for a restaurant are immense (I guesstimated $150,000 when I created our tip jar). Luce's came to $232,000, and this doesn't include a single item of food. Some of the more expensive things were construction ($42,000), electrical/plumbing/exhaust work ($36,500), insurance ($10,000) and legal fees ($3,000).

I've already noted the need to befriend the rich (friends and family funded more than half of Luce). Perhaps it would pay off if we started making friends with construction workers, plumbers and lawyers, too.

Monday, June 10, 2002

We are still learning.

We are still learning, for example, how to bake potatoes. Baking potatoes is not hard. The process can be reduced to two simple steps: 1. Put potatoes in oven. 2. Make sure you do this a long, long time before you are ready to eat.

That second step always eludes us. This weekend Sandy included some spuds in his barbeque menu, and even though putting them in the oven was the first thing he did, they were far from ready by the time the asparagus and steaks were screaming to be eaten.

We waited a few more minutes, but eventually the battle between hunger and patience was won by the former. We dug in.

One traditional method of eating a baked potato is to use a fork to mash and fluff it into a sort of potato pillow. Our potatoes this night, however, were still much too hard for that. I had to use a knife to chop mine into small wedges, ending up with a mountain range of potato.

"Well," Sandy asked, "is it edible?"

"With enough butter and salt," I said, crunching into one of my wedges and reaching for the shakers, "anything is edible."

Which I think would make a fine slogan for our restaurant.




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