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How to Choose and Establish Your Bar’s Name

It may be true that “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Not so for a bar! Great bar names evoke pictures in patrons’ minds. Sometimes they choose one bar over another based on the name alone.

People choose names based on important people in their lives, historical or fictional characters, heritage, or simply where the bar is located. Maybe you have a favorite uncle who loved to drink scotch in a big chair by the fireplace, so you name your bar Uncle Matty’s Bar.

Or maybe you’re Irish by heritage and want to evoke that feel in your place, so you name your bar the Donegal Tavern. Whatever your reasons, you can create a name that represents your vision and connects with your patrons.

At the end of the day, the single most important thing about naming your bar is that the name and the atmosphere must be in synch. Your name must match your concept or theme. People should hear the name and have a pretty decent idea of what to expect when they walk into your place.

The name: A few words about your bar

When you name your bar, you have your single greatest opportunity to connect your vision for your place with potential patrons. You need to give them something to remember in a positive way.

Here are a few things to think about when choosing a name for your place:

  • Consider geographic locations. This can be based in reality (Mountain View Bar in Denver) or wishful thinking (Beachfront Bar in St. Louis). Try words like by the sea, lakeside, landings, creeks, ocean view, river, arctic, trackside, station, depot, train stop, living room, bedroom, hotel bars, lobby, terrace, factory, home, and house.

  • Think about different themes. Just about anything’s a possibility here: sports bars, billiard bars, biker bars, eateries; jazz bars; ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s bars; seafood, steak, lobster, and ethnic bars.

  • Base it on your specialty. If you’re specializing in wine, you could use words like cellar, cave, cork, grape, vat, and wine in naming your place. If you’re specializing in beer, consider words related to beer and brewing, like hops, wort, barley, malt, ferment, styles of beer (ale, stout, and so on), brewhaus, or brewpub.

  • Get creative with the specific type of establishment you run. Words like bar, place, saloon, joint, lounge, bistro, café, bar and grill, grille, club, pub, tap room, manor, palace, tavern, inn, and sports bar can pair with a first (or last) name to finish up. J

    Just add your name to the front of one of these, after you decide which one you want to be: as in Ray’s Manor, Ray’s Bar, Heather’s Saloon, Heather’s Bistro, or Heather’s Pub.

  • Play off the area of town where you’re located. A bar located in the financial district could be called In the Red. Near government and political buildings could be a great place to launch a bar called Hot Air Saloon.

How to protect your bar name and trademarks

As you build your business, you build your reputation. Your patrons have an expectation when they step in the door. If you’re successful, they associate all the terrific things about your bar with its name and atmosphere. The last thing you want someone to do is to sabotage your hard work by stealing your name and using it to open his own place.

How to perform a search on your potential name

Go to your favorite search engine (such as Google, Yahoo!, or Ask.com) on the Internet. Search for bars (or restaurants, delis, and so on) that have the same name or a name similar to the one you’re choosing.

Next, consider using a domain name lookup service, such as Whois.com, to find out whether a particular website address that corresponds to your name is taken and, if it is, who owns it. If the web address you want to use is available, you can register the domain name for as little as $4.95 a year to hold on to it.

And this site offers a service to buy a domain name for you, even if it’s already registered with someone else. It may cost a bit to get one that’s already been taken, assuming the owner is even interested in selling it.

How to trademark your name

Plan ahead and trademark (or register) your name, logo, taglines, and so on. Get the proper paperwork to protect your intellectual property in your state and in the entire country. This prevents other bar owners from slapping your bar’s name on their business. The nerve!

A trademark or intellectual property attorney can help you navigate through the confusing landscape, but here are the basic steps you need to follow:

  1. Incorporate your bar.

    This step makes you a legal entity.

  2. File an application with the county or state office that deals with trademarks.

    This step makes the corporation the sole owner of your trademarks in your class of goods or services (bar and cocktail lounge services, bar and restaurant services, and bar services are examples of a few classes of services currently registered) in your state.

  3. File an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

    This step protects your marks throughout the country. Check out USPTO to search the database of registered trademarks.

    If you plan to expand your bar, franchise your name, or have several locations, have your attorney file for international trademarks as well.

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