What’s in a name?

By Kevin Wilson

By Kevin Wilson
When people
create a
business, it’s not much of a stretch to say it’s like having a new child, with months of planning leading up to uncounted extra responsibilities.
Just like coping with a new family member, a business owner must give the new addition a name, and there’s just not a manual for naming businesses.
The name of a business, like the name of a person, is hard to change once picked and it becomes something the customer will forever associate with a product or service.
It’s got to be something catchy, something original. However, for Clovis and Portales, it can’t be Something Different — that name’s already been taken.
The restaurant, started in Portales six years ago, was named when Leo and Christy Vandenberg couldn’t find a name better than their running joke.
“We both went to college at Eastern (New Mexico University), and we commented almost every night that we wanted something different,” Christy Vandenberg said. “We wanted different choices than a burger. We kind of joked about naming it Something Different, but we never took it seriously.
“It happened through default. Our opening was in one day. We didn’t have a name, we didn’t have a sign.”
Eventually, the name stuck. The process varies for business owners who need a good name.
“For some people it is (a lot of work),” said David Boswell, a purchasing agent for the city of Clovis. “For others it’s not a big deal. Some people are really creative about it, some people will use initials.”
Boswell is one of many at the city who can help people with the process of getting a business started. Depending on the business, the process can take hours or days.
“You can get it done in a day, usually two days. (It’s a matter of) catching people in their offices,” Boswell said. “Let’s say you were opening a computer store. That would be something relatively easy.
“You basically have zoning sign-off saying that you are at a commercial location. They’re just making sure you don’t have 1,200 customers at a time and you’re blocking the streets.”
For a business such as a restaurant, which requires health code inspections, the process in more involved.
In any case, the name is one of the first things that needs to be on a business application.
“We’ve had some unusual names,” Boswell said. “They’re strange in the way they’re pronounced and written.”
Sometimes, a name is just written a little differently. That’s how the Foxy Drive-In came to be, according to owner Chris Bryant.
“My dad used to work at a place called the Fox Drug on Main Street,” Chris Bryant said, “and that was owned by George Sasser.”
When his father, A.C. Bryant, decided to partner with Sasser for the restaurant, it was going to be an extension of the drug store’s trademark.
“He wanted to call it Fox Drive-In,” said A.C. Bryant. “I said, ‘We’re catering to a younger group, so let’s call it Foxy.’ Back in those days, ‘foxy’ had a connotation of being smooth and cool. He agreed and that’s the way we got the name.”
The term “foxy” hasn’t had that connotation in recent decades, but A.C. Bryant said that’s no reason to find some other name.
“It’s too well-known,” A.C. Bryant said. “It’s too well-accepted around the area to make any changes.”
The Vandenbergs are hoping that can be the standard for Something Different as well. When the restaurant first started, Christy Vandenberg said, the menus were placed on hooks, and customers could take a marker on the table and check off the food items they wanted.
“It’s based around the idea that we have so many different foods at one location, so many genres of food,” Vandenberg said. “You obviously can’t get two different kinds of food at most restaurants. We decided to stick with the name because we were doing so many things differently.”
Some will use a name with a theme included, while others will just use their initials. Boswell said any way is fine, and he doesn’t know of any regulations for naming a business.
“I think (the process is) common sense,” Boswell said. “I’m not going to give you an obscene business license.”
In most cases, Boswell said, a name and a plan for a business has been thought out well before it ever gets to the city offices.
“Even if it’s scribbled out on a bar napkin,” he said, “they’ve at least got a plan.”