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Menil comes up with name for new cafe that Google is sure to love

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Slideshow
1 The Menil Parking Lot and Cafe rendering October 2013 day
Bistro Menil will reside in the location Dominique de Menil originally anticipated for a restaurant.  Rendering courtesy of The Menil Collection
5 The Menil Parking Lot and Cafe rendering October 2013
The restaurant will serve a variety of patrons, including museum goers and neighborhood residents.  Rendering courtesy of The Menil Collection
Chef Greg Martin Menil Cafe THIS LARGE
Chef Greg Martin will utilize local produce as much as possible.  Courtesy photo
1 The Menil Parking Lot and Cafe rendering October 2013 day
5 The Menil Parking Lot and Cafe rendering October 2013
Chef Greg Martin Menil Cafe THIS LARGE

Almost 500 people contributed suggestions to name The Menil Collection's new restaurant, but, in the end, the answer was obvious. 

Bistro Menil.

"It's great," chef Greg Martin tells CultureMap. "It tells you what it is and where it is in 11 characters of space." 

 Many of the other "cool and hip" suggestions, suffered a Google problem. 

"All of the entries appealed to us," Menil director of communications Vance Muse says. "Some were very amusing, funny names that kind of tweaked the art world a little bit, (like) 'My Kid Can Do That.'" 

Asked about CultureMap's suggestion of Ceci n'est pas un cafe (this is not a cafe) after the Magritte painting The Treachery of Images, which will be on display at the museum beginning in February, Muse says "We loved that," but Martin notes that it, like many of the other "cool and hip" suggestions, suffered a Google problem.

"It needed to be 'whatever dot com.' In a search engine, it's got to come up first." The museum has already secured bistromenil.com. Muse identified another problem with our suggestion. "That could be hard to say on the phone. What if people hung up?"

Muse says that a similar issue sunk another top choice. "I really loved 'M.C.', but the first thing when you type that in is McDonald's."

Americo Nonini submitted the winning idea. "I thought of names that would make it obvious," Nonini tells CultureMap. "If you incorporate the name with something French, but not too ostentatious, so that most people when they hear it would know it's a restaurant at the Menil Collection."

The contest reminds some longtime Houstonians of a contest the now-defunct Houston Post held in the early 1980s, asking readers to pick a name for the newspaper's new Sunday magazine. The winning entry: The Magazine.

Bistro Menil should open around Labor Day. Martin says he's developing a menu that will please museum attendees looking for a snack, neighborhood residents who want another dining option and travelers who seek out the Menil during visits to the city.

"We are going to support farm to table as much as possible," Martin says of the menu, which will include pizzas, seafood, beef and more. 

Muse thinks Bistro Menil will complement places like Lowbrow and the Eatsie Boys that have opened near the museum in the past year. "It's a really exciting neighborhood of cafes. We love them all,"  he says.

While Nonini wins a dinner for two at the restaurant, he is more excited by the honor of selecting the name.

"I'm going to use this as my claim to fame," Nonini says. "I have an ongoing connection to the Menil Collection."

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