A fine-dining restaurant is set to open at Willow Creek vineyard on the Mornington Peninsula in April. It will be attached to a fancy new hotel, serve an eight-course degustation menu and will trade under the name Doot Doot Doot.
Nope, that's not a typo, that's Doot. Doot. Doot.
Doot Doot Doot might be the worst name for an Australian restaurant of all time – and Australia has a long history of misguided restaurant names. A flip through the 1983 edition of The Good Food Guide reveals the Great Australian Bite, the Jolly Puddler and, rather wonderfully, Prunella and the Priapic Prawn.
Cut to present day and Gastro Park, Get It India and Wok Around the Clock are still powering on. (Although RIP Lauxes, the Gold Coast restaurant that was "sexual" spelled backwards.)
What goes on inside a restaurateur's head when they think terrible names like these are a good idea? Is a bad name part of a larger strategy for public attention or just good ol' fashioned misguided marketing?
The media release for Doot Doot Doot says the name "represents the collective noun for a group of jackalopes", North America's mythical species of antlered rabbit. Jackalope is also the name of Willow Creek's boutique hotel and site of the restaurant, so Doot Doot Doot almost makes sense. The problem is that it sounds like an '80s synth-pop anthem. Or teen code for having a spliff behind the bike sheds. Or a Scotsman trying to explain what an ellipsis is …
"The name of the restaurant is very, very important, especially as the dining landscape becomes increasingly competitive," says Erminio Putignano, managing partner and head of strategy at branding specialists PUSH Collective, and an adjunct professor at RMIT University in Melbourne. "The name is one key lever that restaurants can use to stand out and be memorable."
Putignano says a "faddish" name may result in limited longevity for a restaurant.
"If the restaurant is conceived as a short-term enterprise, then go with a fashionable name and get the most out of it. But, if it's more of a long-term enterprise, and more of a commitment, that is a typical risk that needs to be avoided.
"When I read 'Doot Doot Doot', without knowing anything about the restaurant, what it's going to offer and who's going to run it, in a way there's a risk there."
Choosing a restaurant name isn't easy. For a fine-dining venue, you want something that communicates credibility without the air of stiffness. It should also create intrigue and a sense of anticipation, says Putignano.
"It needs to invite people to wonder 'why are you calling your restaurant that?' and it allows the restaurant to start telling their story. Sometimes there could be a story about heritage, tradition and terroir and so on. Or the story could be centred on the type of food, the type of cuisine, and what the chef believes is the right way to do things.
"But, more often than not – and this is more common in the way we brand products or companies – the story is more an attitude. A personality."
Doot Doot Doot certainly has personality, even if comes off sounding like a regional cafe that also repairs trumpets and toilets. Here's a few more clangers from recent times.
The dad joke
Tequila Mockingbird - Paddington, NSW. You're right, it does sound more like the Instagram account of a 17-year-old Smiggle employee than a mid-priced taco joint in eastern Sydney.
Fish Friar & Chip Monk - Glebe, NSW. Although its signage remains on Glebe Point Road, this chippy left us years ago. For a short period, the Codfather coexisted a few blocks down the street. It was a time to be alive in G-town, kids.
A Salt & Battery Fish and Chips - St Lucia, QLD. Essentially the takeaway equivalent of every hairdresser named Curl Up & Dye.
CreAsian - Coffs Harbour, NSW. You better believe it serves "creative Asian fusion cuisine".
The Pie Minister - Pakenham, VIC. OK, this one is actually excellent. It's a shame the owners flew too close to the sun and the bakery was renamed Pie and Mighty.
The Thai-riffic pun
Thai Tanic - McMahons Point, NSW. This North Sydney classic stayed afloat longer than its namesake and the pun lives on at various locations across Western Sydney.
Thai the Knot - Maroubra, NSW. A spot better known for its chicken wings than weddings. Sadly now closed.
'N Thai Sing - Terrigal, NSW. With a cracker name like that you just know there's a free can of Coke with every order over $30. Or maybe an Extra Dry tipped on its side.
Thai Foon - Darling Harbour, NSW. Established in 1988. Will likely outlast religion.
The "what the Pho King hell were they thinking?"
Moo Moo The Wine Bar and Grill - Broadbeach, QLD. What kind of person out of primary school reckons it's OK to have a steakhouse named Moo Moo in 2017?
Cha Cha Char - Brisbane, QLD. Perhaps the same person who reckons it's OK to have a steakhouse named Cha Cha Char.
Sloppies - Brisbane, QLD. A sloppy joe sandwich specialist that has a logo even more outstanding than its name.
Shingle Inn - various locations. Because who doesn't like the thought of herpes zoster with their caffe latte?
Il Duce Si Diventa - Carlton, VIC. "Hey guys, you know 'Il Duce' was the title Mussolini identified with during World War II? Yes? No? You don't care? OK." This kitsch bar vacated Faraday Street some time ago.
The "come again"?
LadyBoy Dining & Bar - Richmond, VIC. By all accounts, it does a fine papaya salad, but gee whiz, "ladyboy Thai" is difficult to search for on the work computer.
Kum Den - Melbourne, VIC. "Oi! You kids in the back seat, stop laughing! It's not funny!"
Kum Hor - Camden, NSW. "I said to cut it out!"
Dae Jang Kum Buffet - Campsie, NSW. "If I have to pull over this car..."
The Loose Box - Mundaring, WA. A French institution in Perth's eastern suburbs where loved-up couples would stay at the restaurant's on-site cottages after dinner. Oh, c'mon now. Grow up.
Flick N Beans - Bowen Hills, QLD. If Clerks director, Kevin Smith, ever opened a cafe, this is almost certainly what it would be called.
The "I'm not racist, but…"
Uncle Ho - Fortitude Valley, QLD. Not keen on Brisbane's Vietnamese community protesting outside your restaurant? Then don't name it after communist dictator, Ho Chi Minh. The eatery changed its name to Aunty Oh and ceased trading soon after.
MisoHapi - West End, QLD. Q: If the owners of this ramen house are Japanese, does that make the name OK? A: No, because you still feel stupid saying it at the pub.
Woggies - Toowoomba, QLD. The restaurant's tagline was even "Justa lika Mamma's", causing diners to wonder if they were in present day Queensland or an episode of Kingswood Country. (Yes, that is a carbonara cob.)
British Colonial Co - Hawthorne, QLD. For reasons that defy speculation, someone thought this was a perfectly fine name for a restaurant in 2016. Even more incredible was the marketing nonsense on Colonial Co's website: "Inspired by the stylish days of the empirical push into the developing cultures of the world." Seriously, it actually said that. No, it really did.
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