Wednesday, December 18, 2013

What's in a name?

Yesterday, a woman came up our stairs to more or less tell us that our name is wrong, and that a proper Italian restaurant would call it's self Primo Bistro and that Prima Bistro doesn't roll off the tongue.  And on and on.  She was actually quite worked up, maybe even a little bit frenzied.  So, well, first, we aren't an Italian restaurant.  Second, umm, Merry Christmas to you too?  Thanks to Latda and her amazing smile and laugh it just kind of went away without much more than a blink of an eye and in typical Latda style she got the standard, "wow, you handled that horrible person so well" from a nearby customer.

While weird and annoying, this interaction did however make me think about our name and thought others might be interested in why we chose this name.  We are housed in the historic Primavera building in Langley.  "Prima" first is a nod to the roots of this building and the Primavera family.  Second, Sieb is Dutch, and in Dutch the word means excellent/great/very well/first rate.  And in all languages that I can think of, Prima or a derivitive of it, has a positive meaning.  The beginnings of this restaurant were a wild time and we had to pull a business plan out of the blue in mere days so that we could secure funding.  Coming up with a name was one of the most bumpy spots during that time.  Some of our first ideas were First Street Bistro, Bistro 201, Brisa, and Brisa Marina.  Our daughter was 2 at the time and the thought of naming the restaurant "Netty's" did cross our minds, but that wasn't the type of restaurant we were going for...I see that as a cute little breakfast spot, something like Sweet Laurette's in Port Townsend.   Our company name is Lekker, the Dutch word for yummy, and if we could've, that would've been the restaurant name because to hear the Dutch say that word is a wonderful thing.  However, it sounds like leper to Americans, and that just isn't really very appetizing.

Prima came to me and at the time it just seemed perfect.  I vividly remember us saying, "yup, that's it" and hitting print on the business plan.  I really liked the idea of shortening the Primavera name but interestingly, no one gets it.  I didn't consider at the time that it really does sound like an Italian restaurant by name alone, and we still do get the, "why don't you have more pasta on your menu...this is an Italian restaurant right?" question.  In the beginning, customers and even a number of our employees insisted on calling it Primo (so yeah lady, I guess it does roll of the tongue easier), but it seems that trend has faded.  Most locals called the previous restaurant, The Star Bistro, simply The Bistro, and that has pretty much stuck with many of our regulars.  I like that.  However I cringe when it's called The Prima...that sounds very pretentious to me and it doesn't really make any sense.

So anyhow, there you go.  That's how we came to be named Prima Bistro.  Honestly, I do think that I'd like a different name better and I think about it often, but 8 years later, I have yet to come up with what that would be.  And in case that lady from yesterday is reading this, I say to you, simmer down.