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Tuesday, October 30, 2007



Hard to spell AND pronounce? That should tell you everything you need to know. The reason so many people "love it" is that they have grown used to it. Trust me, I've seen this many times before because I'm a professional namer (paid big bucks by car companies, banks, hi tech start-ups, etc.).

Morton the Mousse

One thing to remember is the importance of the internet in the restaurant biz. When a restaurant's name is difficult to spell, it's hard to find info on the web. Misspellings will screw up your Google search, as well as searches on restaurant discussion boards like Chowhound, Yelp, Citysearch, etc. Even if a potential customer knows the website name, is it olallirestaurant.com, ollalierestaurant.com, ollalirestaurant.com, etc.

I also have a strong association with berries and dessert. I know that berries do have certain applications in savory foods, but I tend to think of tarts, ice cream and pie. Given that you're opening a restaurant and not a dessert bar, that association may not be ideal.


While you do have a track record with the name already and it's fun and has flavor, it is hard to spell. Every time I've wanted to write it down I've gone back to your site to make sure I spelled it correctly.

Blake Kutner

Two names, both in Catalan:

Suquet - A Catalan fish and potato stew. Because it sounds cool. Because it is one of the few words in Catalan that are pronounced the same in English. Because fish and potatoes are always available and thus can always be on the menu. Because seafood is one of the connections between SF and the MEd coast. Some consider this the most famous and classic dish of Catalonia. It comes from the word Suqeujar, to seep or exude, referring to how the fish exudes its flavor into the sauce. This could be a place where pleasure and good times exude forth. Because this dish is flexible. You got halibut, use that. Crabs, use them. Rock cod, good too....

The other one is Pla - The con being that it sounds a little like Blahhhh. Although that maybe offset by the fact that is sounds a little like play and or playa. Josep Pla is probably the most famous Catalan author of all times. He wrote at least 40 books and won every prize ever for Catalan literature. He wrote a book called What we Have Eaten and later a cookbook was written called What Josep Pla ate. Anyway, this name might play up the intellectual, historical nature of the food. There are tons and tons of great Josep Pla quotes about Catalan food which could be used to cover the menu or the walls or graffiti in the bathroom.


Much as I love Olallie, I concede its difficulties.

jen maiser

I just don't buy the "difficult to spell" and "difficult to pronounce" thing ... we seem to get over that in this town. We have Coi, SPQR, Ame, Perbacco ... which all are arguably hard to remember/spell/pronounce.

If you google "ollalie" you get the spelling prompt.

I just see a lot of value in the free pr that you've already gotten for this name ... you're already 4th on the links list in google, you've gotten Chron press with this name and a lot of blog chat. That's my reasoning for keeping it.

And on a more emotional/less rational reason, I personally love the native/local fruit tie-in. It always makes me smile.

Ken Heft

Personally, I love it. I love the local connection and the story and all of the attributes it signifies. Is it a good name for a business? That's the hard question you get to answer :-)


Well, I said, "meh...". I like the IDEA of this name and what it implies, but don't actually like it very much. It's hard to spell and could be hard to pronounce for many people. Too many syllables...

And to me it doesn't really say "neighborhood joint" where you can hang with your friends and have great food and a relaxing atmosphere. The name feels like it's trying too hard. It's the game second-runner-up, smiling to the crowd.

It's such a personal thing the name though, be sure you pick what YOU like regardless of any poll. I can't wait to see the other suggestions - I know you have a winner here somewhere!


I like the concept of the name in general, but there are cons that may not be a real issue for you. Since you are actually IN the bay area, pronunciation may not be a problem. Olallie may not be the easiest thing to spell, but most will get the "Ol" part and find you in any common listing. You do have the existing PR that you have generated for the last year, but it does not give me any of the Spanish influence you have, and it does not say neighbor hood joint either.


I agree with those who have said its difficulty to pronounce and spell outweighs its clever ties to SF and connections to yummy things like pie and jam. While I understand it is the name that has been affiliated with your restaurant in the past, a new name signals that it's a new beginning and will attract both old and new customers.

I have the utmost confidence that you will think of something equally clever, cute, and meaningful, that doesn't sound so "marbles in the mouth." Looking forward to more voting!


Olallie's not bad, but I'm not crazy about it.

I only have one thought because it's one of my favorite words (is it weird to have a favorite word?)... what about Aleatory/Aleatoric, or Alea (the latin root). Not only do I just like the word, I feel like it conveys a lot about the art of what you are doing, the art of chance, and the randomness/luck that you are in a certain part of the world using local ingredients from that area.

So that's my offering: Aleatory. :)


I think the name is cute and adorable, but even being and English grad student and food lover and writer, I still pronounce it incorrectly every time I see it.


I know the berry. The name, though, makes me think of Stan and Ollie. Might be a good name for a bakery, but meh. for a restaurant.

How about "Mission" for the name of the restaurant? You have a mission, after all, to serve and support sustainable, organic, local, ethical and seasonal food.

Mission also ties in with that whole back-in-the-days-of-the-missions California fare with Spanish flair thing. Doesn't "mission" just make you think of hearth-baked bread and wine and olives and tile roofs and adobe bricks?

And who could forget the name: "Join us at Mission ... in Noe Valley."

As to one of the other suggestions, there is already a restaurant called Alegrias on Lombard in Cow Hollow, so the name "Alegria" is a no-starter.


Gee, these comments convince me that Olallie is not the best name for your first restaurant. :)

Next up? (I didn't give you my name choice, as, well, I'm not convinced it rocks for your restaurant.)


I second Diane, it's trying too hard. Personally, I'd prefer something a bit more elegant, a la Nopa. Or else all the way in the other direction, a la Liberty Cafe.

I do like the idea of conveying the "field to fork" idea. (Although...the quintessential "field to fork" restaurant, Chez Panisse, sounds nothing like a field or a fork, and it's the first restaurant that comes to mind when I think of fresh-from-the-garden food. Granted, they've had a long to time to build up name recognition, but still.)


P.S. I always pronounce Olallie like, "o-la-LEE". And I never know how to spell it.


Mine was a "meh" vote. I like the berry and I've always loved the word Olallieberry, but it just doesn't evoke a Spanish/Mediterranean feeling at all. For me, it seems almost Scandinavian. All of the Ls make me think of Pippi Longstocking's pigtails.


I have to say I love the word, but I didn't think about the spelling/pronunciation difficulties. I'm a huge reader, and I'm embarassed to say that I've found myself mispronouncing words I've only ever read in books and never heard spoken out loud. It doesn't keep me from loving them still, though! Olallie is such a great, cute word!


I'm on the fence about "Olallie". San Francisco is a sophisticated town, a lot of people will mispronounce it and have no idea what it means, but a lot of people won't. Your local, your core, your neighborhood regulars will all know, and they will educate their friends.

True it doesn't speak to something Spanish, but Lime in the Castro doesn't showcase limes either.


Last week, I was looking for the cross street to the restaurant Laiola. I was pretty sure of the pronunciation, not so sure of the spelling (all those vowels in the right order can be tricky). I tried both Google 411 and the normal 411. Google's automated system wouldn't recognize the word(I must admit there was cursing involved on my end) and even with the live 411 operator, I was out of luck. We ended up going to Farina instead. So I am not a fan of difficult to spell/pronounce.

Plus I'm not sure Olalie tells us much about the restaurant. I wouldn't immediately think, "Oh yes, folks in Noe Valley go olallieberry picking." I would expect Olalie to be a breakfast/brunch place or something similar to Rick and Ann's. I prefer restaurant names that say something about the type of food or the location of the restaurant.


I agree with others who have already added comments. I like the name in theory - but, it makes me think more of a bakery-type place.

Ken H

Thinking more about this name and your statement that it has "No connection to my cooking influences from Spain and her Mediterranean neighbors." If you do pick this name, I think you are obligated to have olallieberry on the menu when it's on season - both savory and sweet. To some extent, it will be your signature time of year and will get you press.


I have to admit that I was tepid on the name when you first mentioned it, though I love the local connection -- right down to the back yard. But it's kind of grown on me, and it does have a playful cadence on the tongue that makes it both fun and memorable. Plus, I like the idea of being Olallie-proximate.


Sosten = sustain in spanish, the seasonal aspect can be splashed in with color or a circle-like logo

I like words with a main accented syllable


I love the sound of it! It is singing to me, and sounds lovely pronounced the French way.

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