What's In A Name? Just Ask the NRA


Ellen Koteff's August editor's letter explains the importance of the right name for your restaurant.

Ellen Koteff's August editor's letter explains the importance of the right name for your restaurant.

My digital, high-definition television does a lot more than broadcast daily headlines. It brings me the name of the caller on the other end of the telephone every time it rings, as long as the set is on at the time. You know the drill — if your phone and cable television provider are the same — synergies don’t begin to cover it. But I digress.

This week my phone rang and to my delight the flashing name on the screen was the simple abbreviation, NRA. Several names that might have been calling from the National Restaurant Association went through my head, Dawn Sweeney, Sue Hensley, Alyssa Prince, Mary Pat Heftman, Lynette McKee, Greg Kirrish or Joe DeCarlo.

It would have been a pleasure to talk to any one of these fine folks, but I quickly found out it wasn’t any of them. To my astonishment, the NRA call turned out to be the National Rifle Association soliciting donations. Boy, did they get a wrong number.

I am afraid of guns, but that doesn’t stop me from respecting everyone’s constitutional right to bear arms. In fact, some of my favorite people in the world love hunting, shooting and every other endeavor that screams macho.

And don’t get me wrong: My fear isn’t based on any political persuasion but rather on decades of too much movie violence. Rifles don’t bother me nearly as much as handguns because most of the really bloody movie scenes that I’ve witnessed illustrate in living color a point-blank shooting with a Glock 17 or some such pistol.

For years our NRA, as in the association that represents the foodservice industry, has had to compete with the abbreviation ascribed to the more-than-125-year-old gun lobby.

There was a time when the board members from the National Restaurant Association seriously considered changing the name so as to put any confusion to rest. In the end the name remained, and so did some of the confusion.

And let’s face it — the National Rifle Association has greater name recognition with consumers than does the National Restaurant Association. And how strange is that, given the restaurant industry is the second largest in the United States? I wish it were not the case, but the gun lovers’ association understandably gets discussed more often on talk radio, on television and even as the butt of comedians’ jokes.

But as frustrating and confusing as this NRA abbreviation might be, especially for the National Restaurant Association members, I say it could be worse.

I mean the NRA could be confused with the Netherlands Racquetball Association, the National Reptile & Amphibian Advisory Council or my personal favorite, the Naked Run Association.

I guess the playwright William Shakespeare had it right when he wrote that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

And we all know that a restaurant smells a whole lot sweeter than any shooting range.

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