I think you've read enough of my blathering, so I'm going to try to keep this short.
First, let's review the concept.
Mission: Provide our guests a place to gather with their friends to celebrate food, wine, and life.
Food: Seasonal, sustainable California fare with Spanish flair.
Ambience: Bustling, convivial neighborhood joint with views into the open kitchen and garden.
There are 3 (!) polls today.
The first poll concerns the name Olallie. I'm keeping it separate for now. Since it has been the name associated with this project for the past year, it deserves special attention. The question is simple. Do you think I should keep it? Do you feel that any of the more than 200 names we've all come up with over the past few weeks are a better fit for the type of restaurant I am opening? Please only vote once.
Then there are the second and third polls. The difficult ones. How could I possibly whittle our lists down to a handful of choices? In the interest of full disclosure, my decision making process went something like this. Monday, I climbed to the top of Mount Whitney, built a sweat lodge, ate some peyote, and spent the day on a vision quest. Then I came home and spent the night floating in an isolation tank. Yesterday I consulted an astrologer, numerologist, tarot card reader, and i-ching expert before lunch, then had my palms read, looked into a crystal ball, and conference called the Dalai Lama, Pope Benedict, and Jon Stewart via Skype before finally passing out naked in a pile of Scrabble tiles, drunk from one of the many bottles of '61 Romanée Conti you all have been sending me.
Okay. Not really. I made the part about Jon Stewart up. If only!
Instead, I followed some advice a restaurant-owning friend gave me a few years back. She said to picture myself answering the phone and saying "Hello. You've reached ________. How may I help you?" Then repeat 100 times to see how I really feel about the name.
In addition, I focused on the story that each name tells. Also, how easy is it to spell, pronounce, and remember? Is it distinctive and appealing? What does it look like visually? Does it lend itself to graphic design? What does it sound like? Does it make you smile? Does it inspire culinary adventure?
Forgive me if your favorites didn't make the cut. Some, like Tibidabo, Corcovado, Casolana, Julivert, Barcino, and Bocarte, seemed too difficult to remember or pronounce. A couple of pretty ones, Triana and Sonrisa, struck me as too dull, not distinctive enough. One of the most popular choices, Open Hearth, fell into that category for me as well. As one commenter wrote, it really wants to be Hearth, but isn't. Two relatively popular ones, Besos de Sal and Lovage, didn't pass the phone test. Both seemed to be trying too hard to be romantic. Viridian is excellent, but it sounds too downtown and serious. I'm looking for something a little more playful. Sadly, I lost interest in Castropoda when a snail tried to crawl up my nose during my vision quest.
You'll notice I couldn't resist tossing in a new contender. Tilde. As in the adorable little squiggle above the letter n in some Spanish and Basque words (and above a and o in some Portuguese words). You know: ~, as in ñ. Sadly it's not used in Catalan. Diacritical marks used in Catalan, like Ce trencada (ç) and ela geminada (ŀl), just don't have the same familiarity and association with Iberia (to an American eye) as the well-known tilde. FYI, the Spanish/English word for the hook under the ce trencada is obscure but kind of cool: cedilla.
I also added biquini into the mix, even though only one person besides myself liked it. It really is the name in Barcelona for a hot pressed ham and cheese sandwich, aka a panino (Italian) or tartine (French). I think it has good potential as a name. But, then again, I may be suffering the delusional aftereffects of the peyote. Or perhaps it's just the iconoclast in me. I have to include one name that will inspire hate mail. [11 am update: Sorry, it was late last night/early this morning when I added this as a choice at the last minute. Although it's gotten a few votes, I'm deleting it from the polls].
In the second poll I've listed just
5 4 names. Even if you prefer
Olallie, please participate in this poll. No conscientious objectors,
please. You may choose more than one answer.
The third poll allows just one answer, but I've added Olallie back into the mix. Please only vote once.
Please note that the results of these polls are not binding.
In fact, just to increase the suspense factor, you may have noticed that I'm keeping the results of these polls hidden from you all for now. Yes, I am that evil. I promise to share the results in a few days. [Saturday edit: as promised, results are now visible]
There's still time to persuade me that I'm making a horrible, unconscionable mistake. That I really must reconsider [insert your favorite name here]. That all of these choices are lacking and uninspired. Really. I'm flexible and open to new ideas. In fact, I can be downright malleable.
Also, by all means, if you come up with a brilliant idea, please don't hesitate to share it with me. I still have this hope that someone (perhaps one of the 9 Muses... 10 if you count Brillat-Savarin's Gasterea?) will whisper a poetic metaphor in my ear that captures the convivial spirit of my favorite restaurants in Barcelona and San Sebastián, that sense of a place to gather with your friends to celebrate food, wine, and life. Trust me, dear Muse, you will be rewarded handsomely.