What's in a Name? Increasingly, If It's a Restaurant It's a Number

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So what’s up with the numbers?

Have you noticed how many restaurants are using numbers in their names? It’s a practice that was once common with Asian restaurants -- Pho 88, 1-6-8, 4-5-6. In most Asian cultures numbers, or number combinations, are thought to be lucky. And in the restaurant business you need all the luck you can get.

But with the newest wave of number-named restaurants it’s less about luck than it is about location. Most, but not all, of the restaurants with numbers in their names are trying to pinpoint their address. And so we’ve got Pine 22, Terrace 390, 903 Mills Market, Norman’s 180, 4 Rivers, Press 101, Seasons 52, Three Broomsticks, Five Guys, 50‘s Prime Time Cafe, Nine18, Circa 1926, 310 Park South, 310 Lakeside.

Those last two are an interesting study. 310 Park South, of course, is the name and address of the restaurant in Winter Park. Wanting to cash in on its popularity, the owners named their second location 310 Lakeside, even though the address of the restaurant is 301 E. Pine St., which will cause great consternation among the dyslexic. (Never mind that it is not technically lakeside, either; who would go to a restaurant named 310 Across the Street from the Lake?)

Besides having a name that potentially means nothing, restaurants with numbers in their names run the risk of confusing potential guests or, worse, Google. We all have lots of numbers jangling around in our heads. Zip codes, area codes, phone numbers (landline, cell, fax), our own addresses, birthdays, anniversaries -- they all compete for order but often come out jumbled. Trying to remember what number is in the restaurant’s name doesn’t always compute. Just now I had to look up the name of the new restaurant in downtown Orlando because Terrace 190 just didn’t sound right no matter how many times I said it.

But my memory is the least of their troubles. How will the restaurants show up in search engine results if the searchers don’t know how to search for them? For example, when it first opened, Pine 22 was thought be some to be, alternately, Pine Twenty2, Pine 20-Two, Pine Twenty-two -- and when I pressed someone at the restaurant to give me the definitive spelling and numeration, there was a great pause and hesitation. Nine18 is problematic, too. If someone just tells you about the restaurant and you want to look it up, are you going to type Nine18 or 918? Is it 4Rivers, 4 Rivers or Four Rivers?

It’s interesting that those restaurants that use their address in their name do so hoping their restaurant will be easier to find. Ironically, it may make it more difficult. And, suddenly, numbers in a name don’t seem quite as lucky as they once were.

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