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Restaurants and Bars with Clever Names (moved from Chicago)

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  • Rene G Jul 16, 2003 06:04 PM
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I tried to restrain myself, really I did, but all those wok puns got me thinking of other Chicago restaurants and bars with “clever” names. This is from something I posted to chi.eats several years ago. A number of these establishments have since gone out of business (wonder why?).

Owners of hot dog stands seem especially fond of puns. Examples are First National Frank (was near McCormick Place; you ordered your hot dogs at teller’s windows), Relish the Thought (Halsted), Wiener’s Circle (Clark), Dog Day Afternoon (Belmont), Wiener and Still Champion (Evanston), Mustard’s Last Stand (Evanston), and Wiener Takes All (some other suburb).

Back in Lettuce Entertain You’s salad days, cute names were obligatory. I think Jonathan Livingston Seafood was their second restaurant and Lawrence of Oregano was their third.

A deli in Skokie goes by the name of Barnum & Bagel. Even worse is the Loop bakery, My Favorite Muffin (LaSalle). Other bakeries are Cake Walk (Pulaski), Bake for Me (Roosevelt), and Hot Cakes (Dayton).

There are quite a few Thai restaurants with "clever" names. I can think of My Thai (too many in Chicago), Thai-Rific and Bow Thai.

Chinese restaurants aren’t immune: there’s China Doll (Wells), Wok’n’Roll (53rd) and Mandar-Inn (Wentworth).

Names containing "Inn" are very tempting. The Come Back Inn (Melrose Park) comes to mind. We also have Drift Inn (Western) and Squeeze Inn (65th). At least Chicago doesn’t have a Dew Drop Inn (I hope). Along these lines, there was a place in Seattle, Peter’s Inn. The exit door was marked with a sign, "Peter’s Out."

I’m sure lots of cities have coffee shops named Uncommon Grounds. There’s one in Chicago (on Grace).

I don't know if owners of hot dog stands or bars love awful names more. I think the matter merits some serious research.

I always liked the Lizard Lounge. Chicago's may be gone but I'm sure there are many others (I think even Paris has one).

El-Kees is at the corner of Elston and Keeler but it's a better name than that. Then there's Tuman's Alcohol Abuse Center on Chicago and Leavitt.

Maybe the most tasteless name was Rest In Pieces on Western, right across from the cemetery (the bar is now gone, RIP). Also on the northwest side is Sit-n-Bull, just a regular place on Pulaski.

Ginger's Ale House (Ashland), Pour House (Southport), Clark Bar (guess), and Club Foot (Augusta) are moderately clever but probably not even close to original.

I'm not sure which name is worse, Mugs Bunny (far south side) or Stocks and Blondes (financial district).

Enough already! Please forgive me.

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  1. d
    David Hammond

    Rene,

    You mention the second and third Lettuce Entertain You restaurants. I believe the first was The Great Gritzby's, which had, as I recall, huge vats of flavored cream cheese as the main attraction (hey, it was the late 70's -- I can hardly imagine a more fitting culinary reflection of the cultural milieu).

    3 Replies
    1. re: David Hammond

      I had my Lettuce history a bit mixed up. According to their website the order was:

      R J Grunt’s (1971)
      Fritz That It (1973)
      Great Gritzbe's Flying Food Show (1974)
      Jonathan Livingston Seafood (1975)
      Lawrence of Oregano (1976)

      1. re: Rene G

        Although I thought I read once that Fritz That's It was actually first, and they made RJ Grunt's officially the first so that they could refer to it in PR as the first LEYE restaurant.

        Sort of like the Saturday Evening Post being founded by Ben Franklin (60 years after his death) or Marlene Dietrich's debut in The Blue Angel (I've seen one of her pre-debut films).

      2. re: David Hammond

        Do you remember what The Grill on the Alley i Chicago Michigan Avenue Westin Hotel was called back in 1976?

      3. You are forgetting the bar on Halsted with the name almost too wicked for a family message board like this: The Man Hole.

        1. My all-time favorite was a hot dog stand named "Eat it and beat it!". I think it is or was located somewhere in the western suburbs.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Artie

            I was about to post that I recalled an "Eat it and Beat it" on the near NW side. Always reminded me of Fernwood 2Night and Happy Kyne's (of the Mirthmakers) "Bun and Run". I'm thinking it was in the vicinity of Augusta/Ashland? It's been a while and I'm easily addled these days, so I could be wrong.

          2. On Lincoln Avenue just off of Eastwood in the early 70's when the Greeks were moving in, there was a gyros-sandwich shop called "Grill Broil". Also on Clark, south of Chicago Ave., there was a bar which was called something like "Eat and Drink".

            3 Replies
            1. re: JoanB

              The bar was called "Stop and Drink".

              1. re: Artie

                Yikes--must have had food on my mind--that's what I meant to say!

              2. re: JoanB

                Actually, I think it was "Stop and Drink". I went in there once in my youth. It was too much for me, they had the biggest selection of pickled pork products in amazing, not-found-in-nature colors that I have ever seen.

              3. Quite a list, sir. To add to two of your genre's, there's the Peek Inn on Irving Park and, of course, we should not overlook Hot Doug's.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Aaron D

                  And the Bob Inn at Fullerton near Rockwell.

                2. Although the Leland house of liquors (Leland and Western) lacks a cleaver name I always get a chuckle out of their tag line "We cater to your spiritual needs"

                  1. Tie (Thai) Me Up and Once Upon A Thai are my annoying favorites.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: JeffB

                      I was equally fond of Beau Thai. Perhaps just because the punning was bi-lingual, I gave it extra-credit points.

                    2. There used to be a dive bar near the 'old' central post office called the "Stamp On Inn" - big hangout for the postal workers.

                      1. As it was so aptly said in the movie "Spinal Tap," there's a fine line between clever and stupid.

                        The puns are mostly stupid.

                        The gag names ("Eat it and Beat it!") aren't necessarily clever, but they are funny.

                        The themelines and mottos are mostly ridiculous and pretentious.

                        (One exceptional motto, though not related to restaurant-dom, is something I once saw on the side of a plumbing company's truck: "Where a Flush Beats a Full House.")

                        Priceless.

                        1. There are dozens of clever Spanish names as well: I know I have a list of it I have been putting together somewhere in the house. Will try to find it. 47th is particularly rich in these: Bar Callejon Sin Salida (The Alley without An Exit) and so on.

                          The most in-your-face of them all was probably Cojones Liquors which used to be located on Racine, I think just south of Taylor. If I remember correctly, it was just north of a housing project. It was on the west side of the street, on the sw corner, on the right going south on the 60 Blue Island bus. It's now condos, of course. Cojones = the most vulgar possible way to say "Family Jewels". I guess they thought gringos would never figure it out. ;)

                          RST

                          1. There used to be a bar on Harlem south of Cermak called "He's not Here". On another note, I've always been curious about a spot on Fullerton called "Baxter's Gin Mill"--then it says "VIP Room--25 years and older." Anyone been there? This sounds like a job for David Hammond.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: JoanB

                              An pud I once saw (around Naunuet, NY) I think took the tradtion of Irish named pubs to a humories level by calling thiers "Shenanagins"
                              Also I underand there is a very sucessful chain of 24- hour Chinese resturants in Australia called "Wok around the Clock"

                              Personally I keep looking for a chinese noodel shop called "Lotsa Fun" or a bun shop called "The Bao House"

                            2. The one that came to mind when seeing this thread is a bar called The Office. As in "Honey, I have to stay late at the office tonight"?

                              1. There's a place in North Hollywood called "Take a Bao" and, here in Las Vegas, there's a great bar and grill called, appropriately enough, "O'Aces".

                                1. Some of the following certainly qualify; others are iffy, and a few are funny but downright unfortunate.

                                  Sam & Ella's Chicken Palace
                                  Miso Hapi
                                  the Codfather
                                  Thai Tanic
                                  Pho Shizzle
                                  Barf House B & B
                                  Crap Bar
                                  Foo King Chinese Restaurant
                                  Pita Pan
                                  the Spleen Cafe
                                  Pu Pu Hot Pot
                                  Lord Of The Fries
                                  Big Wong Restaurant
                                  Sherrell's Eat Here And Get Gas
                                  Riri Fatt
                                  New Cod On The Block
                                  My Dung
                                  Amy's Winehouse
                                  Wok In Wok Out
                                  Coffee Anan
                                  Pee & Poo Steak House
                                  Fook Yue Seafood Restaurant
                                  Stomach Clinic Bar & Restaurant
                                  Phat Phuc Noodle Bar

                                  Photos of many of these were compiled for a book:
                                  http://www.amazon.com/Pu-Hot-Pot-Rest...

                                  and a few have their own websites...
                                  http://www.pillowsandpancakes.com/bnb...
                                  http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/241/11407...
                                  http://www.myswitzerland.com/en/crap-...

                                  1. There is a new yakitori joint in my Tokyo neighborhood called Stomach Hold.

                                    It is owned by a pro wrestler who is famous for a wrestling move by that name.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: Tripeler

                                      SF's Phuket Thai (everyone forgets that 'ph' is NOT pronounced as an 'F' in Thai/English phonetics) I know it's lame and sort of sad how many dumb chuckles have occurred over the years.
                                      Wheel-Inn - a drive-in burger joint in the midwest.
                                      What the Pho? - a VN place in I think NYC

                                      1. re: hill food

                                        Hill Food -- was this in response to my post? Or did you click the wrong reply button?

                                        1. re: Tripeler

                                          oops sorry Tripeler, as that was misdirected. to clarify: I think the VN soup is pronounced "fuh" and the Thai area is said as 'Pu-ket' IIRC.

                                          1. re: hill food

                                            Yeah, as I always say, "Awwwww, pho-geddaboutit."

                                    2. Melbourne, FL hot dog joint...Mustard's Last Stand.

                                      1. There was a place across the street from my apartment in Rochester NY called Boners. Their specialty was foot-long hotdogs, all of which had names ending in "boner," as apparently boner=hotdog in mid-90s Rochester. The piece de resistance on the menu was known as the Moaner Groaner Boner. They went out of business in '95 or '96, but I can still remember the creepy murals of dancing hot dogs and ketchup bottles on the walls.

                                        1. In Chicago:

                                          Honey Don't Forget the Milk (corner store, now closed)
                                          High Dive
                                          Huck Finn Donuts

                                          1. There's a new (to me) burger/shake franchise called "MOOYAH"