Via InBerkeley, an excellent example of group-written hyperlocal journalism, I learned of the opening this week of Five, a restaurant in the recently renovated Hotel Shattuck Plaza (which back in the day was known simply as the Shattuck Hotel).
As of this writing, the Five website is still minimal; it includes no explanation for the number-name. So I contacted the executive chef, Scott Howard, on Twitter. His prompt response: "[I]t refers to the 5 senses, it can be that simple or as complex as you want to make it." Well, he's a busy man. He delegates.
(I haven't yet visited the restaurant, but Chef Scott is apparently serious about including the sense of sound in his five senses. His very first tweet: "Music in a restaurant is like salt in a meal: if you can recognize it, it's too much." Hurrah!)
Learning about Five made me curious about the numeral-naming of other restaurants. I'd already known, for example, about TWO in San Francisco. Its address is 22 Hawthorne Lane, but that isn't how it got its name. Rather, the website tells us: "If you’re wondering about the name, TWO is the second incarnation of Hawthorne Lane, one of San Francisco’s most celebrated special-occasion restaurants." (My two cents: Lamest. Back story. Ever.)
I wondered: Do Two plus Five equal a trend? The Interwebs answered: Yes. A verging-on-overplayed trend. My advice to fledgling restaurateurs: keep your numbers on the balance sheet and off the logo.
All of these restaurants, with one and a half exceptions, are named for a single digit. In sequence:
TWO, San Francisco.
3 Bar and Grill, Arlington, VA. (From the About Us page, verbatim: "We came up with the name '3' for a number of reasons. This was the 3rd restaurant in our family but most importantly because we provide the 3 essential ingredients for a great night out? Good Food, Good Drink, and Good Times." Good punctuation and syntax? Not on the menu.) There also is, or was, a Three Restaurant in Baltimore; I found reviews but no website.
Four Restaurant, Toronto.
Seven Restaurant & Lounge, San Jose, "Silicon Valley's newest hot spot." There are unrelated Seven restaurants in Kansas City and Calgary, a Seven Bar & Grill in New York, and a Seven Restaurant + Bar in downtown Los Angeles.
N9NE Steakhouse, Chicago. It's pronouned "Nine."
Ten Restaurant, Lawrence, KS ("Great American Food"). (There are also many Japanese restaurants named "Ten." In Japanese, ten can mean "heaven," "celebration," or "above.")
Eleven Restaurant & Nightclub, Los Angeles, whose chef used to work at Numbers (!). Eleven's website is undistinguished, but I admire its domain: www.eleven.la. The dot-LA extension has been the domain name designation for Los Angeles since 2001. (Except when it's the domain name designation for the Lao People's Democratic Republic. Got it? Me neither.) There's also an Eleven Restaurant in Pittsburgh.
Twelve Restaurant, Denver. "As the name implies, the menu changes each month, or 'twelve' times a year." I'm not sure what the unnecessary quotation marks around "twelve" are meant to apply. Twelve-ish? Oh, and there are unrelated Twelve restaurants in Atlanta and Washington, DC.
Image: Cover of Numbers, a wiki book.
* From the home page, verbatim: "ZERO RESTAURANT, as essential. Will to exalt the raw materials without renounce to the plaisure of the taste, in a life concept that encloses the style of feeling good Is not anymore time to add something, we need just to take off." For further insight, consult English As She Is Spoke.