Naming your new bar is an important undertaking

Posted: June 26, 2010 in advice on owning a bar, Spokane Valley Bars
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I heard a rumor a month ago that the guys opening our old place were going to call it Fu Bar. I thought no way, but people kept talking about it. Then Elaine went in and talked to them and saw the name on their liquor licence or menu or something. I still couldn’t believe it, I figured it must just be a temporary name or something but yesterday I saw they got their sign up and sure enough it’s the Fu Bar.

Fubar is an acronym that stands for F***ed Up Beyond All Repair. It comes from a 1944 Army short film called “The Three Brothers”. The main characters were Fubar and his brothers Snafu (situation normal all f***ed up) and Tarfu (things are really f***ed up).  Fubar is also a famous gay bar in San Francisco. I guess it works in San Fran and it probably won’t bother the bar crowd around here but don’t expect to see any of the general public going there with a name like that. It is beyond me why anyone would choose a name that will hurt business in any way. A name should be clever and catchy at best, or simple and passive at the worst. It should never have anything about it that would turn anyone off.

For example, our old place was for years called the Plantation and the landlord forced all the tenants to use the word Plantation in their name. He was so proud of that name that he actually put it in each lease agreement that the new owners must use the name so that it would remain registered and always be a part of that location. He only allowed us to call it The Rock Inn if we added “at the old Plantation” in small letters below our name. It was a big battle just to get that concession but I would have fought harder had I realized that some people found the word “plantation” offensive. I had a good African-American friend who would not go there because of the name. I know that if it offended him it must have offended a lot of people. That always bugged me.

Then you have Hotteez. Elaine hates the name and I’m sure a lot of women find it sexist. But I know the owner of the place and I am surprised that he does not call it Hoteez Plantation. That way he could offend about 75% of the people all at once just with his name. He might even have the African-American women picketing the place since they would be doubley offended.

A lot of people don’t give the name of a place any thought and it has no bearing on whether they go there or not and I am one of those people. To me personally, The Fu Bar is fine. It doesn’t bother me at all. But I know they are shooting themselves in the foot with that name. Just below the big neon Fu Bar they have another sign that says “Steak House.”  Well, I’m sorry but there are a lot of people who like steaks but don’t like bars.

When Elaine talked to them she told them how we used to have a lot of groups that held their meetings in our banquet room. They said they would really like to try to get them back. I doubt the Rotary Club will be real anxious to invite their guests and speakers to join them at a place called the Fu Bar. The new owners can also forget about the Gideon’s, who used to gather once a week and have prayer meetings in the banquet room at the front of the building while the sinners were raising hell at the bar in back. I always got a kick out of that.

I hope for the new owners’ sake that they run such a great place that the Fu Bar name will seem like pure irony, but based upon their first move, I am a little worried for them. So far all they have shown us is a Thifu – That Handle Is F***ed Up!

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