The name game


Charmington’s has been in the works since early Spring of 2009, but we didn’t know then that it would be called Charmington’s.   It turns out that a group of eight people who are basically like-minded about having a local cafe that has great food, fair trade coffee, and serves as a small community hub can have wildly divergent ideas about cafe naming.

So, for your infotainment, I present some name options we didn’t end up using (and a little bit more about the one we did):

Black Aggie’s

This was our front-runner for a long time.  Some of our crew are super into all things haunted, and so were drawn to the local legend of Black Aggie, a cemetery monument in the shape of what was supposed to be a grieving woman, but is actually a terrifying blob.  Local students named her Black Aggie, and she was supposed to kill you if you went through some kind of spend-the-night-on-the-grave fol-de-rol to encourage her to do so.

As a group, we liked the local connection, and the many fun ways we could play around with the Black Aggie character. Plus, one space we  were looking at pretty seriously had a very gothic feel to it, and Black Aggie would’ve fit in just fine.

When we realized that space was unfeasible for us, we decided that the name was really contingent on the cafe space we chose.  Black Aggie wouldn’t tolerate her name being used just anywhere.

Also, there’s another (Color) (Woman’s Name) coffee shop in town, with similar (though not identical) goals to our own.

Soylent Bean

This was the clear winner in the fool-proof polling method of posting it to Facebook and seeing who lol’d.   Get it?  Soylent Bean!  Like Soylent Green!  We were even going to play off that and and make postcards that said, “Soylent Bean is…People!” with pictures of all of our smiling faces below the text.

However, one of our number is deathly allergic to puns, and to phrases manufactured on equipment that also manufactures puns.  There have been very few ultimatums in our planning process, but Soylent Bean provoked one of the few.

Finally, we concluded that, in the words of the Simpsons, “It’s a funny joke that becomes less funny every time you hear it,” and moved on.

The Bells

We came to this one by some pretty convoluted associations.  Miller’s Court, the building where the cafe is currently being built out, used to have something to do with tin.  It was a can company, maybe?  Somebody knows this.  Anyway, we tried all these names playing off “Tin,” and didn’t like any of them.

Somebody got to joking about “Tintinnabulation,” and from there we got to Poe’s poem The Bells.  As a group, we liked that the Poe reference was a subtle one, but still had that sort of dark and brackish Baltimore connection we’d been after with Black Aggie’s.

What we didn’t like was the sort of generic nature of the name.  Would people immediately assume that a place called “The Bells” served coffee?  Would non-fans of Poe get it or care?  We liked it, but didn’t want to marry it.

The moment of decision

I’ll spare you the rest of our rejected names and our process.  We went through dozens casually, and a respectable handful seriously.

Finally, a few months back, we’d found the Miller’s Court space and decided that it had to be our new home. (One day we’ll tell you about Miller’s Court and what’s so cool about it.)  It was decision time.  We were competing with other potential lessees, and couldn’t stay unnamed forever.

We all met up, with snacks and wine, and ruthlessly ranked the names on our collected lists–plus one late addition.  A friend had called one of our crew breathlessly, minutes before the meeting, to   tell her, “I just have to let you know. I’ve lived in that area for years, and I’ve always called it Charmington, because it’s between Charles Village and Remington.”

Maybe because it we hadn’t been looking at it and trying to think of ways that disgruntled customers would parody it on Yelp for months, but Charmington’s slowly, effortless floated into everyone’s top ten names.   We discussed, we debated, we killed the wine, and Charmington’s it was and ever since has been.

Please do not tell us if you have any other helpful naming suggestions.


3 Responses to “The name game”

  1. Chris Says:

    I think it’s a great name. As a Remingtonian, I always feel like nobody knows that Remington even exists – either it’s invisible, or it’s part of Hampden or Charles Village. Not to get too territorial about it – we know and love those neighborhoods and the people in them – but it’s just nice for someone to acknowledge Remington’s existence! Definitely a great way to endear yourself to the neighborhoods, although I suspect your coffee, food, and (hopefully??) wi-fi internet will do plenty of endearing as well!

    Hope to see y’all at a community meeting soon.

  2. Cara Says:

    Hi, Chris! I know that some folks are currently planning to come to tonight’s meeting, weather permitting. We absolutely want to contribute to the communities we’re a part of/next to, but we’re definitely trying to juggle the pre-opening tasks, day jobs, etc. But anyway, yes! You’ll be seeing us around.

  3. Charmington Says:

    I think any of these names are better than charmington’s. I think puns work no matter how lame ….I’m looking at you Mr. Yogato.

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