It seems like everything about opening a restaurant is difficult. You have to come up with a concept and a location. Then you have to get funding (all of those schmancy forks and glassware are expensive) and hire staff. Finally, just as you open the doors to the public, you realize you forgot one important thing: a name.
A restaurant's name is the soul of the establishment. It sets the tone and mood of the experience long before a guest even walks into the place or tastes the food. Imagine if, say, Le Bernardin were called the Fish Shack or French Laundry turned into Rinse Cycle. The food might be the same, but would the place garner the same immediate visceral response?
Sometimes, even the most creative chef has trouble choosing a moniker for his "baby." Which is why Ralph Pagano is looking for a little assistance in the name game.
The chef, who is opening a Mexican restaurant at the Dream South Beach Hotel during boat show weekend in mid-February, is having no trouble whatsoever creating the menu (Ensenada and Baja street food-style tacos and a "killer breakfast") and the drinks (tequila infusions and mucho más margaritas).
But Pagano, who is never at a loss for words, just doesn't know what to call the joint.
Which is why he's asking the good citizens of Miami for a little help. Pagano says he hopes the contest will allow people to have a vested interest in the restaurant. "It's like a horse race. You pick a horse and it's yours. Whether it wins or loses, you're rooting for that beast. That's how I want people to feel about my yet-unnamed Mexican joint."
Plus, the chef is honestly stumped for a good name. "I've thought of everything. And I've gotten suggestions like Paganito's and Ensenada. I'm seriously looking for one terrific idea to blow me away."
If you have one, submit it on the Ralph Pagano's Unnamed Mexican Joint Facebook page by Monday, January 20. And be creative. "You don't know how many people submitted 'Sueño' as a possible choice already, because we're located in the Dream Hotel."
The chef himself will choose the best label. The winner will be announced January 21 on The Paul & Young Ron Show on Big 105.9 FM and will receive a VIP stay at the Dream South Beach Hotel during the weekend of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival (and the undying gratitude of one Miami chef).