Choosing the name for your business is always a tricky proposition. You want it to be snappy, catchy, memorable, have a nice ring to it, and somehow imply what your product is. Tech startups like Zynga can choose basically whatever they want, but when choosing the name of a restaurant, especially a potential chain, you really need to give it some thought. Whoever started these 10 chains obviously didn’t give it much thought.
For as long as restaurants have been around, they’ve had terrible names. For every Delmonico’s, there are 10 Slaughtered Lamb Pubs (an actual bar in New York). Historically, restaurants and bars were given the name of the owner, or perhaps some literary or historical allusion, and in general tried to stay as mundane and inoffensive as possible.
Take Louis’ Lunch in New Haven, Conn., for example, which has been around since the late 1800s and is widely credited as being the birthplace of the hamburger. It was started by a guy named Louis, and he served lunch there. So there you go: Louis’ Lunch.
As the years went on, though, it become harder and harder for restaurants to differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack. There could only be so many bars with generic Irish names, so outlandish monikers like Bennigan’s, Houlihan’s, Fuddrucker’s, and Applebee’s began to sprout up. From there it was only a matter of time until owners began to go for shock value, giving rise to the likes of Hooters, Skinny Dick’s, and the like. People saw, people chuckled, and people became customers.
The rationale behind chain restaurant names is always somewhat of a mystery. Most of the time, it’s because there was no rationale: someone came up with a name, it got a go-ahead, and voilà. Usually, the settled-upon name satisfies all the criteria set forth above, like Burger King, for example. It’s memorable, has a great ring to it, and clearly lays out what the restaurant sells. The world’s worst chain restaurant names don’t really satisfy any of the criteria, or perhaps they satisfy them a little too well, basically smacking you in the face with its lack of subtlety (we’re looking at you, Eatza Pizza).
So read on to learn about some really awful chain restaurant names. Be prepared to wince.
This chain got its start in 1985, and prides itself on being a family-friendly chain of pubs, which is also a bit of an oxymoron. No word if there’s actually somebody out there whose first name is Beef.
Sambo’s began innocently enough in 1957, as an amalgam of the first name of founder Sam Battisone and the last name of co-founder Newell Bonhett. By 1979, there were more than 1,000 outlets in 47 states. However, people finally started to realize that the association with Little Black Sambo might just be considered offensive, and it was soon boycotted. Communities even passed resolutions preventing the chain from opening in their town. Today there’s only one left.