The Meanings Behind Local Restaurant Names

Every restaurant has a name and behind that name is a meaning. These meanings are special and unique to the business. Some names come from family members, others from the restaurant’s location, and others are ideas of the owner. Have you ever been to a restaurant and wondered the history and meaning of its name? I looked at three local restaurants, The Muddy Creek Café, Mama Zoe Michael’s, and Providence Restaurant, and the meaning of their names.

The Muddy Creek Café and Music Hall: Located in Bethania, The Muddy Creek Café and Music Hall was established in 2011. Owners Shana Whitehead and Bill Heath created a menu of homemade sandwiches, salads, and more. Also, local musicians perform at the Hall Thursday through Saturday. According to Whitehead, the name “The Muddy Creek Café” comes from the Muddy Creek that runs across the street from the café.

“There is a beautiful hiking trail, called the Black Walnut Bottoms Trail and it wanders past the Laurel Creek, the Bear Creek, and the Muddy Creek. The Muddy Creek runs through Winston-Salem along the Muddy Creek Greenway,” said Whitehead.

During her spare time, Whitehead enjoys being outdoors. This love was transferred over into the café.

“I loved the name “Muddy Creek Café,” because it fits the setting. It also captured what we wanted the café to be…rustic, outdoorsy, and family, kid, and dog-friendly,” said Whitehead.

Mama Zoe Michael’s: Growing up Greek, Zoe Michael loved working at her parents’ restaurant. The love and determination to learn every aspect of the restaurant business followed her into her adulthood, acquiring two degrees in Business Administration and Food Service Management from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. This love, passion and childhood experience showed the way in 1991 for Michael and her husband Chris, to open Zoe’s Southern Grille in Fort Myers, Florida.

“Zoe’s Southern Grille was a huge success, not just with the inspired cuisine and riverboat décor, but with the unfamiliar name Zoe. Almost five years later in 1995, our snowbird customers started informing us about a new restaurant that opened in Alabama, Zoe’s Kitchen and another in New York, Zoe’s Northern Grill!   We were located almost at the southwest tip of Florida – who would think we should have trademarked the name. The success of Zoe’s Southern Grille led to the establishment of seven other restaurants in the greater Fort Myers area, with varied themes and culinary techniques,” said Michael.

Due to the recession in 2007, the family relocated to Winston-Salem. Incorporated in the state of North Carolina, they opened Zoe’s Kitchen Inc., and three years later a curve ball forced them to take down the family name, Zoe!

“There was a corporation from Alabama coming to North Carolina, Zoe’s Kitchen! Even though Zoe Michael was the first and original owner of the name they had more restaurants so the name Zoe was not allowed in any formation, so we renamed the restaurant using my personal own legal name Mama Zoe Michael’s,” said Michael.

Today you can dine at Mama Zoe Michael’s and taste the collection of family favorites and food recipes spanning over 48 years.

“We have brought them all together here at Mama Zoe Michael’s “where friends and family meet to eat!” The Michael Family Restaurant Group continues our style of eclectic menu recipes and inspired cuisine at three locations, Mama Zoe Michael’s, Waldo’s Wings and Cin Cin Burger Bar. We hope you enjoy our food and thank you for your continued support, love and patronage of our restaurants,” said Michael.

Providence Restaurant: First opened in 2015, Providence Restaurant gives guests more than a meal; it gives them a chance to support a local cause, the Second Harvest Food Bank of NWNC. Jeff Bacon, Executive director of the restaurant and Triad Community Kitchen, says the name “Providence” was given to him by God.

“I’ve never understood anything as clearly as when God told me “I’ve always provided for you, now use that to provide for others.” Providence is defined as “the protective care of God,” said Bacon.

Providence Restaurant gives individuals in need of assistance an opportunity for work and placement in their restaurant. There are several steps one must go through first.

“First, they make the decision to reach out for help by enrolling at the Triad Community Kitchen. Then, they must complete the tasks in the very intense 13-week program. Sometimes this is often one of the first things the attendee has ever completed. Next, they need to finish the program with a GPA of over 80, excellent attendance, and a recommendation from the Director of Culinary Education and the Executive Chef of Providence,” said Bacon.

According to Bacon, once settled as a resident at Providence Restaurant, they can better care for themselves, their families, and their community.

“It truly comes full circle. One of the beautiful things happening at Providence is the community gets to participate in this journey. They can enjoy our wonderful farm to fork cuisine, interact with and support the residents, and unwind and soak in the hospitality, leaving refreshed and encouraged. God is there the whole time, in His providence, helping us serve something beautiful,” said Bacon.

The next time you dine out, don’t be afraid to ask about the history and meaning behind a restaurant’s name. After all, you just might find out a little bit of local history.