Feelgoody Names: The New Black? Or The Jumped Shark?

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Looks Local to us! Photo: courtesy Hilton Suites

Two just-announced openings make us wonder if it's time to start regarding natural, locavore, good-for-the-planety-sounding restaurant names with suspicion rather than enthusiasm. It's not that the places being talked about sound necessarily bad, by any means— they both sound like they could be decent enough. They just don't sound like what their names are promising. The first is Local, not to be confused with Wicker Park's Lokal, which already exists. It's from the Chicago Cut Steakhouse team and will be in the Hilton Suites Hotel (whichever one that is), offering upscale comfort food like... meatloaf with Dr. Pepper sauce. Uh-huh. Look, it's not just that we consumed all the Dr. Pepper sauce we ever wanted to at Dixie Que in the early 90s, but last we checked Dr. Pepper was an industrial product, not something that grew naturally. Sure, the fried chicken may be Gunthorp or Swan Creek etc. etc., but c'mon, you've got the free-range chutzpah to appropriate the term Local for your very own, that's a high bar in a city where chefs really take "local" seriously and with integrity. That doesn't just mean you buy the chickens and the vegetables locally, it means you respect them once you have them. When places like Vera, Province, North Pond, Browntrout buy great-tasting local things, they don't immediately have the urge to drown them in soda pop. [Eater]

There's a little more obvious justification for the name of Community, which will take over the Crofton on Wells space and is coming from a Rockit Ranch vet, with a former David Burke executive sous chef named Frank Whittaker in charge of the kitchen. For one thing, they plan outreach to community groups who will be the beneficiaries of different activities for a month at a time. Still, this is a three-level restaurant with a restaurant, bar and speakeasy-style lounge in River North. Do you think "community meeting place" when you hear the words "speakeasy-style lounge in River North?" Do you think "community meeting place" when you read menu items like "mini puff Kobe beef dogs with whole grain mustard?" There's a really strange dissonance that wants to simultaneously evoke 20s gangsters and PTA meetings, all in the heart of Pretty-Peopleville on Friday nights. Two years ago you would have just called yourself a "gastropub" and been happy about it, today you have a need to subtly evoke a get-together with the alderman at the Sulzer Library to talk about blue recycling cans. It's weird. Community sounds promising for what it is otherwise, but if it has to be named for a cult TV series, so far as we know there's nowhere in town called Firefly or Sherlock, go for it. [Eater]