The Bay Area is no stranger to trendy restaurants, what with our farm-to-table, craft-cocktail-lubricated, no-white-tablecloths-allowed dining scene. And I totally dig it, down to the salvaged wood tables and the ubiquitous Edison bulbs (which, gasp, are not very energy efficient, it turns out).
But the thing that I keep getting stuck on is the seemingly endless number of restaurants and bars with the Mad Libs-esqye ____&_____ naming convention, the logic of which seems to go as follows: a) pick a super vague, strangely charming noun b) pick another one. Success! This has come to a fore with two recent openings: Harper & Rye, in the former Red Devil Lounge space, and Captain & Corset, a wine bar in Oakland. I mean, come on guys. You should only be slapping “Rye” on a name if you have a killer selection of spicy American-made whiskey. Also, Captain & Corset is a wine bar. Not a rum bar, not a pirate themed bar, and (I’m assuming) not a bar that will be evoking some kind of seafaring brothel. But these guys are simply joining a long line of two-noun spots, including (but not limited to):
Harvest & Rowe
Craftsman & Wolves
Lure & Till
Market & Rye
Sons & Daughters
Baker & Banker
Bourbon & Branch
To be fair, those last two make some kind of sense; Baker & Banker are the two chef-owners' names and Bourbon & Branch has a lot of the brown stuff on offer, even if branches are hard to come by.
This growing trend has event drifted overseas, where The Poke UK published a great step-by-step guide to opening a hipster restaurant, down to the “bearded barmen” and “quirky waitresses.” But really, the Brits have the weird two-name places down to a science — on a recent trip to London, I got pints at The Ape & Bird and The Blacksmith & The Toffee Maker.
Maybe instead of trying to force these names into making sense, we should get even weirder. Pull nouns out of hats! Open dictionaries to random pages! Rather than having the ___&___ be somewhat opaquely complementary, let’s have some opposing words. Conflict! Drama! Some potential names:
The Vegan & The Carnivore
Fisherman’s Wharf & The Local
The Fixed Gear & The Hayes Street Hill
The Gluten-Hater & The Tartine Bread
The Germaphobe & The 31
The Organic Farmer & The Green Giant
The Mixologist & The Smirnoff Ice
The Master Tenant & The Needs a Room
What do you think, do I have a hit on my hands?
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