Hoppipola? PapaCream? Why do some Mumbai eateries have such quirky names?
In a city where a new restaurant opens nearly every week, and several close down with just as ruthless regularity, restaurant owners will try anything. We’ve seen floating restaurants, Prohibition-themed bars, menu prices set like a stock exchange, foreign chefs, grandma recipes, buffets and takeaways. In recent years, one more aspect has been giving entrepreneurs sleepless nights: what to name their restaurant?
New eateries have been christened with names that stand out rather than blend in. They range from the bizarre (like Acqua Caelum) to the banal (Poetry by Love And Cheescake) and everything in between.
“Restaurants are usually named keeping their target audiences, cuisines, or locations in mind,” says Ravi Wazir, founder-CEO, of the restaurant-consulting firm Phoenix. “The more adventurous a promoter, the more likely he or she is to pick a distinctive name.”
There are lazy shortcuts. Many promoters will “borrow” from a popular international franchise (London’s Chor Bizarre) or a former local restaurant (the upcoming Bombay Brasseire). But the name is only half the battle, Wazir says. “The rest is about how you empower that name, build a brand, and form connections with patrons.”
So, what makes a certain name click? Seven founder-promoters tell us why their establishments are so distinctively named:
Hoppipola (Malad, Powai, Khar, Lower Parel)
First thought: A restaurateur discovered Icelandic band Sigur Ros a decade after everyone else, and slapped the name of their famous single on his signboard.
On a serious note: Hoppípolla (in the original spelling) is Icelandic for ‘jumping into puddles’. Avik Chatterjee, head of innovation and new formats at Speciality Restaurants, says the name evokes fun and playfulness. “When we were finalising the name, the team shut their eyes and said some shortlisted names out loud. ‘Hoppipola’ brought a smile or smirk to everyone’s face. So we went with that,” says Chatterjee.
It’s a mouthful, they agree. “We’ve come across mispronunciations like ‘Happypola’,” he says. “But it becomes a conversation starter, with people either correcting you or talking about the place. That’s good for brand recall.”
Koinonia Coffee Roasters (Bandra)
First thought: The word ‘koinonia’ occurs 20 times in the New Testament. This better be good coffee.
On a serious note: ‘Koinonia’ is Greek for joint participation or communion. The name of this coffee brewery and café in Chuim Village was the uniform pick of co-founders Siddhartha Marchant, Clement Sissa, and Shannon D’Souza.
“Koinonia is an ecosystem. Not just of us and customers, but also of our farmers in south India who grow the coffees,” explains director Marchant, who doubles as Koinonia’s roaster.
Mispronunciations abound, but that’s a good thing, they say. “When something’s difficult to pronounce, it’s registered in your long-term memory, because you make more of an effort into getting it right,” believes Marchant. “It’s great to have people come over and ask us about the genesis and meaning of the name. What better way to connect with customers?”
Shizusan (Lower Parel)
First thought: A Shih Tzu dog emigrated from Osaka to Mumbai and earned the Japanese honorific ‘-san’.
On a serious note: ‘Shizusan’ loosely translates to ‘collector of maps’. Deepti Dadlani, VP of marketing and communications at Bellona Hospitality Services says it refers to a collector of cuisines, culture and traditions.
“In colonial times, shophouses were also called pleasure houses. The first level was an opium den, the second level functioned as a brothel. Over time, these places were converted into casual dining eateries,” explains Dadlani.
No, they do not deal in opium or other pleasures. The restaurant serves casual, street, and home-style food from Japan, China, Korea, Vietnam, and The Philippines.
Papacream (Oshiwara, Juhu, Churchgate)
First thought: Nothing that connects Papa and Cream is printable.
On a serious note: Mumbai is overflowing with ice cream parlours that use liquid nitrogen and savoury flavours. So what makes Papacream different? “Some people suggested a name pertaining to liquid nitrogen or freezing, but none of them struck a chord,” says founder and CEO Tanvi Chowdhri. “Ice cream is for everyone, so I didn’t want a name that’d be too fancy or difficult to pronounce. One day, I was sitting with my family and brainstorming over a name, when my father-in-law joked that he should be made brand ambassador. He said, ‘Why not name it Papacream’?”
The joke stuck.
Three Chicks & A Bear (Lower Parel)
First thought: A grizzly gatecrashes a hen coop. You won’t believe what happened next.
On a serious note: Kainaz Messman-Harchandrai’s burger joint is a nod to her family. Specifically her mother.
“My mum used to make and supply burgers, sandwiches, and rolls to Mafco stalls and throw hamburger parties back in the ‘80s and ‘90s,” she recalls. “This was at a time when burgers were virtually unheard of. She always wanted a burger place of her own.”
She adds that the Messmans were one of the first families in the neighbourhood to own a Maruti car. “The vehicle was so small, Mum would joke that my dad – who’s very tall – looked like a trapped bear in it. So he’s the bear, and the three chicks are us three daughters,” she says laughing.
Door No. 1 (Bandra)
First thought: A film starring Govinda, at a televised game show.
On a serious note: Door No. 1, popular for its music, board games and books, was named because of its location.
“It’s the first property at Bandra Reclamation’s ONGC Colony lane and also the first restaurant for our group, S&S Foods,” says co-founder Mihir Bijur. “We wanted to be the first choice for everyone looking for a place they can call home. Door No. 1 is the first name we came up with, and since we got such good response from friends and family, we didn’t look back.”
True Tramm Trunk, True Tramm Trunk Terrace (Juhu)
First thought: Someone likes tongue twisters.
On a serious note: Hand it to owner Ankit Anand, he makes no bones about wanting to get patrons sloshed.
“Our idea was to stand out by offering good food and drinks, but also be a place that would leave people Too Damn Drunk,” he says. “When you’re drunk and the words slur, ‘too damn drunk’ sounds like ‘True Tramm Trunk’, which we thought made for a perfect name. Mumbai needed a place where one could simply go to wholeheartedly enjoy drinks.” Their interiors also keep to this theme. The signs read ‘Alcohol you later’ or ‘Trunk Measure’.