Four months after opening, the owners of City Hall — the government-themed Fulton Market restaurant, bar, and event space — have decided to rename the bar-and-restaurant portion. The new name, Recess, is intended to distinguish it from the event area, according to general manager Andrew Ketchum. The new name will also make it easier for ride-share drivers; no more confusion between the restaurant and where Chicago’s City Council convenes.
So what’s in a restaurant name, exactly? A lot, it turns out — there are intangible qualities to consider, like punchiness and humor, as well as logistical demands including pronunciation, trademarks, and SEO. A Google search for “Chicago City Hall” does turn up the venue’s website, but it’s surrounded by real government pages about city services and departments.
“City Hall” isn’t the worst name for a restaurant, but here are some contenders — past and present — as selected by Eater staff.
Big Cock Chicken
Chicago cheesesteak purveyors Philly’s Best are running a Nashville hot chicken pop-up in Lakeview and considering selling merch with the deeply unappetizing claim, “cock so good I swallowed it all!”
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New shirts at our pop up restaurant Big Cock Chicken , Nashville hot chicken. 907 w belmont. Should we sell them ? Send us your ideas !!!!!!! #nashvillehotchicken #chicken #chicago #chicagofood #spicy #chickensandwhich #chicagofoodies #delicious #yummy #bigcockchicken #hotchicken #chicagofoodgoals #newrestaurant #wordplay #dirtybird
The Washington Park cafe that now goes by Peach’s at Currency Exchange Cafe could easily have been confused for one of Chicago’s many spots that offer a variety of city services. Owners updated the name when South Side chef and restaurateur Cliff Rome took over the kitchen last year.
“The Sandwich King” Jeff Mauro’s barbecue-focused sandwich spots inside Mariano’s stores lean on an obvious pun and bizarre allusion to a 1978 sitcom. Robin Williams is a legend — this name, not so much. Mauro has even said that many of his younger employees didn’t know about the reference.
These Mexican-style restaurants from LA and Texas respectively both play fast and loose with efficacy of a taco as sexual innuendo. One might even go so far as to refer to their approach as “distressingly sexual.”
This Chicago River-adjacent restaurant and bar delights in embarrassing customers with often crude handwritten bag hats, but the real jolt comes from the selection of “certified Dick shirts” and thong underwear bearing the chain’s name.
The now-shuttered West Loop wine bar and restaurant was a mouthful for customers. It didn’t exactly roll off anyone’s tongue or resonate. The name came from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Not everyone is a fan of the Bard.
Some venues dance around the issue, but this forthcoming boozy doughnut purveyor seems to lean into stigma with unabashed glee. Hopefully the fancy doughnuts in West Town will be enough to endure the name.
Why is Chicago still celebrating the former head coach of the Chicago Bears whom the team fired 26 years ago? The Gold Coast restaurant was apparently near closing, but “miraculously” brokered a new lease. Another miracle would be for the Bears to win another Super Bowl so Chicagoans could move on from the 1985 champions. Ditka doesn’t exactly represent the city’s values, and the vision of him wearing a sombrero to sell salsa is something that’s hard to scrub from a memory.