Okay, sometimes business folk can be funny and charming
By Nury Vittachi
People often complain that I am always rude about business people. This is not true! I am negative about business people only about 99 per cent of the time. (Today’s column is the other one per cent.)
I applaud the wit of small business owners, by which of course I mean people 1.7 meters or less. Short people need something to laugh at other than themselves, so tend to put wit into their names of their firms.
This tendency spreads through most languages and cultures. I’ve seen an Indian restaurant called Posh Spice, a Chinese restaurant called the Hard Wok Café and a Thai restaurant called Beau Thai.
Puns work in different languages, too. A restaurant in Germany is called Asiatisch, which simultaneously means “The Asian Table” and “Asiatic” AND sounds like the sneeze you get if you put too much wasabi on your sushi.
Asians who move to English-speaking places find that there is huge potential for fun by presenting Asian words to English consumers. There’s a Chinese food delivery service in Australia called Wok it to Me. Sydney has had a long series of Thai restaurants with names which are feeble puns, including Thai Riffic, Thai Tanic and Thai Ranosaurus. Queensland in the North of Australia has a late-night restaurant called Wok Around the Clock.
In the US there’s a restaurant called the Wok On Inn, another called Fu’s Rush Inn, and a health-food place called Lo Fat Chou. In South Carolina, you’ll find Kit Chin’s Kitchen. In Toronto, Canada, there’s a restaurant called Ho Lee Chow, which sounds like something Batman would exclaim.
A restaurant run by Asians in the town of Shirley, UK, is called The Shirley Temple. And there’s kebab shop in Middlesborough called Abra Kebabra.
Here are some other gems from my files:
A brassiere shop in Los Angeles: The Booby Trap.
A bakery in Las Vegas: Great Buns.
A bicycle shop in Hamilton, New Zealand: Cycology
A beer outlet in Bangalore, India: Pitcher Perfect.
A tiling shop in the US: We’ll Floor You.
A fish and chips cafe in Brisbane, Australia: Salt and Battery.
A dog kennel centre in California: Citizen Canine.
A gift shop in the Scottish town of Oban: Oban Sesame.
A coffee shop in New Jersey, US: Brew Ha Ha.
A wine merchant in South London: Philglass and Swiggott.
A gardening service in Florida: The Lawn Ranger.
A pregnancy and maternity shop in Sydney: The Growing Concern.
A Mexican restaurant in Manila, the Philippines: Nacho Fast (“not so fast”, get it?).
A drinks store in Texas: Tequila Mockingbird.
A flooring contractor in Dublin, Ireland: Lino Richie.
A food store in New Jersey: Lettuce Feed You.
An antiques shop in Victoria, Australia: Den of Antiquities.
A Thai restaurant in Sydney: Thai to Remember.
A flower shop in Texas: The Enchanted Florist.
A tanning salon in New York: Sun of a Beach.
A dog grooming shop in Australia: The Yuppy Puppy.
A botanical service in New Zealand: Tree Fellas.
Of course, sometimes Asian words give entirely the wrong meaning in English—and no one notices until it is too late and the place is open for business. That’s the only explanation I can give for the Thai restaurant in California called the Poo Ping Palace.