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Boring Food Companies

When Heston Blumenthal announced that his new London restaurant featuring historically-themed British meals would be called Dinner, it was clever. It just treads the line between simplicity, humor, and the trendiness of the one-word restaurant name.

Clever is a matter of perspective. Other people may think "Dinner" as dull as I think a raft of other recent or incipient arrivals on the restaurant scene. Frankly, I'm half-impressed that I managed to remember them long enough to write about them. So here is the latest in food trends - not that I expect you to remember it.
  • The Burger Company is the ultra-bland title of the motorway services eatery which is operated by motorway services company Roadchef. They replaced their Wimpy outlets with it. Clearly, the name was chosen by a committee.
    Further news: Roadchef is replacing the rest of its Wimpys with McDonalds. Surely its own-brand Burger Company must be just filling in until the big-name brand replaces them.

  • Steak & Co. is the ridiculous name of the mass-market steak house which opened in approximately early November on Charing Cross Road, right by Leicester Square, on the site of what was previously a Gourmet Burger Kitchen. Initial reviews sound decent, even if the name is dull.

  • I can see how "Next" works as a clothing company name - I've had years to acclimatize to it. But as a restaurant name? I'm not convinced, even if the Chicago project is an innovative one from one of my very favorite chefs. (It didn't actually open in 2010, contrary to expectations back when that article was written.)

I rather liked the wit, elegance, and weirdness of one-word restaurant names. I just hope not many more succumb to downright dull and easily-confused ones.



( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 8th, 2011 12:04 am (UTC)
Aw, no more Wimpy chain? Well, there goes the legacy of one Popeye reference.
Jan. 8th, 2011 12:19 am (UTC)
Oh, the chain's still around. In fact, it went through a major consolidation/remodeling last year. My local one now has a sign outside advertising afternoon tea....
Jan. 8th, 2011 01:41 am (UTC)
A charming but spectacularly crazy acquaintance of mine opened a restaurant called Dine in Saratoga Springs (warning: obnoxious autoplay). It was ten years ago, and I think he genuinely beat the trend of 'restaurant names so boring they're sort of cool'; still, I kind of roll my eyes at it now. Incidentally, if you click on 'table' you'll see a picture of him; I imagine that once you do so, you will agree with my psychiatric assessment of him.
Jan. 8th, 2011 02:40 am (UTC)
Which reminds me now that the favorite cafe of my previous landlady is called Food. (It's okay. Decent food and an interesting selection of foreign junk food on the shelves. But, for me, that invites comparisons with Collegetown Bagels, which has far superior sandwiches.)
Jan. 8th, 2011 11:09 am (UTC)
you missed 'Eat' ;-)
Jan. 8th, 2011 11:14 pm (UTC)
I think I once read an addendum to the "never eat at a place called 'Mom's'" rule, which is "unless the only other restaurant in town is called 'Eats.'"
Jan. 8th, 2011 01:13 pm (UTC)
I remember being shocked to see a nightclub in Cambridge called "the place" -- how generic can you ever get? :)
Jan. 8th, 2011 11:11 pm (UTC)
"Next" is also the name of the condo tower across the street from the one I live in.
Jan. 8th, 2011 11:59 pm (UTC)
I was surprised to discover a surviving Wimpy in Upminster - I hadn't seen one in years. It was still that peculiar hybrid of fast food and restaurant-with-table-service. They were using nice big rashers of back bacon in the bacon cheeseburgers, which I consider a definite plus.

At least "The Burger Company" is descriptive. "Next", however, is so bland it could be attached to any business whatsoever and remain equally meaningless. See also "Aviva", "Centrica", "Carillion", and all other such names produced by a marketing consultant reaching into a bag of Scrabble tiles.

On a not-particularly-related note, I have just discovered the marvellously Pythonesque British Sandwich Association. Their sandwich auditors are out there tirelessly promoting innovation and excellence in sandwich-making, and I, for one, salute them.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )