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What's In A Name?

Alexandria restauranteurs explain the names of their eateries.

Naming their business is one of the most important decisions a restaurant owner makes. When picking a name, many take into consideration where it would fall in the phone book and whether customers can remember it easily.

For several, the decision is also more intimate, according to Ishi Patterson, the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington’s member services director.

"A lot of people name restaurants personally after either themselves or family members," she said.

Here is what some local business leaders had to say about the names of their own Alexandria restaurants:

<b>Bookbinder’s, 109 S. Saint Asaph St.</b>

Bookbinder’s has nothing to do with binding manuscripts. According to manager Donny Whitcomb, the Old Town restaurant is named after the original location in Philadelphia, which was opened by Samuel and Sarah Bookbinder in 1865 to feed watermen.

"It has become a Philadelphia tradition and we are carrying on that name," said Whitcomb.

He added that he was unsure if the Bookbinders’ ancestry were ever involved in making books themselves.

"Many people do mistake us for some sort of bookstore. We get phone calls with all sort of questions about what types of books we sell or bind," he said.

<b>Cedar Knoll Inn, 9030 Lucia Lane</b>

When Beatrice Flores bought the Cedar Knoll Inn 14 years ago, it already had its name. Flores said she is not quite sure why the name was chosen when the restaurant opened in 1935 but she does know that the name has stayed with the restaurant through several owners.

"I don’t have a lot of research but they say it was because they had cedar trees around it. There are still a couple of cedar trees but they are old. There are not a lot of trees like their used to be," she said.

<b>Eamonn’s Dublin Chipper (728 King St.), Restaurant Eve (110 S. Pitt St.)</b>

When Meshelle and Cathal Armstrong were trying to come up with a name for their upscale fine dining restaurant four years ago, their three-year old daughter Eve suggested they name the restaurant after her.

"At first, we all laughed. Then, it just fit with all of us. This is our labor of love. Why shouldn’t we give it that name?" said Meshelle Armstrong.

After having named one restaurant for their daughter, the Armstrongs decided they should open a second place to name after their son. So two and half years after starting Eve, they opened the casual, walk-up eatery Eamonn’s.

"It is noisy, kind of like my son," said Meshelle Armstrong of the chipper.

Armstrong said naming their businesses after their children has a few other perks. Both staff and patrons really understand how important and special their restaurants are to the owners.

<b>Los Tios Grill, 2615 Mount Vernon Ave.</b>

In Spanish, "los tios" means "the uncles."

"I was trying to find a easy and short name for the restaurant. … Maybe I picked the name because I have too many uncles," said restaurant owner German Mejia.

Mejia’s father has six brothers and nine sisters. The restaurant owner is also an uncle himself, with six brothers and four sisters of his own.

"My uncles were everywhere when I was a kid. I have a very close family," said Mejia, who said many of his uncles live near the Salvadorean and Tex-Mex restaurant and visit it frequently.

Mejia said he has also sought to create a family-friendly atmosphere at Los Tios, which is reflected in the name.

<b>Overwood, 220 N. Lee St.</b>

Ryan Duncan was considering investing in a new restaurant when he visited a "great little restaurant" called Underwood in California’s Sonoma Valley. Duncan was attracted to the name because it had incorporated "wood" in its title.

"The reason it sort of caught my ear is because we use wood cooking. We have a wood-fired grill and wood-fired oven," said Duncan, who is a partner in Old Town’s Overwood.

Duncan also thought the name would reflect the simplicity of the American cuisine he hoped to produce at the new restaurant.

"We wanted a one-word name if we could find one. It would reflect the simplicity of the food," he said.

In the end, Duncan found through a Google search that several restaurants were already named Underwood but he could not find another one that was called Overwood.

<b>Royal Restaurant and Caterers, 735 N. Saint Asaph St.</b>

Royal Restaurant may be on Saint Asaph Street now but for the first 60 years of its lifetime, the casual American eatery was located on Royal Street. The Royal turns 104 years old this year and has only been at the Saint Asaph location for the last 44 years.

"We were on Royal Street next to City Hall until 1964. That is how the Royal got its name," said Chris Euripides, the restaurant’s manager.

<b>Tempo, 4231 Duke St</b>

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Restaurant owner Wendy Albert and her husband Cerge were originally interested in naming their Italian-inspired restaurant after a close friend, Yannick. Unfortunately, few people could pronounce the name correctly and it would place them at the end of the list in the phone book, said Wendy Albert.

After they abandoned their first name selection, the Alberts decided to look restaurant names that started with the letter "t."

Cerge Albert had spent several years working at Terrazza and Tiberio restaurants, which are run by Giulio Santillo. All of the Santillo’s restaurant names start with the letter "t" and Cerge Albert wanted to allude to his work at Santillo’s businesses by also naming his restaurant with a "t."

"We finally settled on Tempo. It meant contemporary modern cuisine but it did not really label us strictly Italian," said Wendy Albert, whose eatery features Northern Italian and French cuisine.