Shame on You Marcus Lemonis | Restaurant Naming No No’s

Naming a restaurant can be difficult and there are challenges and pitfalls to both the process and your final decision.

While were always really excited to watch an episode of The Profit (@TheProfitCNBC) on MSNBC, we had a hard time watching a recent episode.  Normally we love all the help and great tips Markus Lemonis (@MarcusLemonis) shares with the entrepreneurs.  More importantly, we really love how he helps small business owners and startups.

With that said however, in a recent episode, we felt he went too far.  In this particular episode, he forced a restaurant name on the founder, and worse yet, it was against her better judgement.

The entrepreneur in question complained that the name was insensitive to her ethnic heritage.  We believe that’s a huge “No, No” and the Brandings Restaurant Naming Team would have made a complete stop.

Let’s back the story up a little bit and begin at the beginning.  On the episode in question, entitled My Big Fat Greek Gyro (Episode 217), Markus Lemonis helped a struggling Greek Restaurant find their feet and become profitable again.

The biggest problem the company was facing was they were using a restaurant name that they could no longer use.  We must say, this problem occurs more often than you may think.

All too often the naming team at Brandings gets a phone call from a restaurant owner, explaining a common scenario.  For example, a restaurant owner launches their new restaurant, it grows and expands.  After a while and some success, they get a phone call or a sies-and-desist notice that they can’t use their name anymore.

In this case, that’s exactly what happened to the owner of the restaurant on the show.  What happened next however, both bothered and surprised us.

Mr. Lemonis has his team of professionals develop a new name for the Greek restaurant.  The name in question was developed without consulting the founder of the company or any other stakeholders in the business.

If they had they had, they would have found that the founder hated the restaurant name.  Worse, she found the name insulting to her Greek heritage.

The name that Mr. Lemonis, who is Greek himself, and his development team created was, “The Simple Greek.”  After presenting the new name the founder express her opposition.  Mr. Lemonis simply replied “trust the process, it’s a great name” and “I’m Greek and I don’t find it offensive.”

While we understand that Mr. Lemonis, who is Greek himself, and now the largest shareholder in the company, liked the name.  No matter, he should have consulted the founder.  The fact that he pushed his new name on the founder without input really got to us.

His team then forced a business name on her, one she found offensive to her heritage, we find outrages!

We were speechless. The flurry of phone calls between our team members after we all saw the show was blinding.  We may have raised the stock in AT&T.

Unless something happened off camera which we weren’t privy to, we would NEVER, EVER, EVER, NEVER force a name on owner or founder.  In particular, how could we ask them to stay with a restaurant name they weren’t happy with.  Moreover, one that they found offensive to their nationality identity.

With that said, the Brandings Team agrees with her; “The Simple Greek,” sounds offensive. One could imply that you’re saying Greeks are simple.  Anyone who took a history class knows that “the Greeks” are hardly simple and have a long proud heritage.  If we’re correct, the Greeks invented Democracy, the Screw, Bronze casting and even the Watermill.

Cool Available Business Names:

First, to infer that the Greek People are “simple” is crazy and second, the fact that he forced the owner is crazier.

Equally important, how could anyone possible expect her to walk through the door each day with her head held high?  Moreover, how could she walk under a sign with a name she finds offensive?   Personally we would find it demoralizing.

Additionally it doesn’t instill trust in the owner, that something as important as naming a restaurant could take place without the owner.  Beyond that, it kills the desire to work and be happy in front of the customers who walk in the door.

At Brandings, we believe “the process” that develops great names.  We believe the best names comes from intense collaboration with all parties and input from key internal and external stakeholders.  Great business names emanate from a firm’s strategic mission, goals and objectives. It should capture the “soul” and unique personality of the firm.

When our clients go out into the world with a name that we collaborated on, they’re excited to tell people.  We would never thrust one on a firm, and certainly not forced one the entrepreneur finds offensive.

That’s not a “process,” that’s totalitarian arrogance. So a big thumbs down on that one Mr. Lemonis (but we can’t wait for the new season!).

If you’re interested in naming a restaurant, our team has developed a available Restaurant Name Generator.  This generator pulls 250 names developed specifically for the food and beverage industry, you must try it.  Oh, it’s free and there’s no down side really; check it out.

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