Why So Many Restaurants Were Named After Women in 2019

And why men are the ones naming them

Emilie's DC
Emilie's in DC is one of many new restaurants named after a woman.

Tessa, Emily, Rosalie, Leila. These are all names of women. They are also names of restaurants. As Rachel Levin noted in a recent year-in-review article for Eater, the trend of naming restaurants after women really boomed in 2019, with the above names, along with a number of others, attached to some of the biggest restaurant openings across the country this year.

While many of these restaurants got their names from real women in their proprietors’ lives — mothers, grandmothers, wives, daughters, etc. — other owners simply chose anonymous female names for other reasons.

Vince Howard named his new Denver deli Tessa not after a daughter or grandmother, but rather because he “always thought of it as a nice, comforting name,” he told Eater. “It seems to suggest a loving, female touch.”

Howard isn’t the only proprietor who looked to female names as a source of comforting hospitality. San Francisco chef David Golovin, who opened Dear Inga in October, said he wanted the name to make guests feel like “somebody’s home, like Grandma’s cooking.”

Of course, as Levin noted, it’s hard to ignore the sexist undertones of male proprietors’ seemingly instinctive tendency to gravitate toward female names when looking to conjure a sense of doting domesticity. However, men aren’t the only ones naming their restaurants after women. Perhaps the most notable example of a restaurant named for a woman by a woman is Atelier Crenn, named for its three-Michelin-starred owner Dominique Crenn.

“People today are looking for restaurants that are genuine and inviting, as an answer to the divisiveness in our culture,” said Joseph Szala of Atlanta-based Vigor Branding. “A restaurant with a woman’s name sounds like an open-arms type of place.”

Ultimately, as Levin noted, “No one is criticizing men, or anyone, for honoring the people who raised them, cared for them, and cooked for them. Even if we wonder, as ever: Why did those responsibilities always fall on the women?”

The answer to that oft-pondered question, according to Levin? “Patriarchy.”

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