Sunday 24 December 2017

Why Cuca?

8 years ago, we arrived in Bali with two suitcases and a big dream. Literally! We had one year to finalize a concept, find a location, build a restaurant, hire and train a team, open our doors and start serving customers. It was a daunting task. So, just like when you go to the grocery store you write a list to make sure you do not forget anything, we wrote a massive “to do” list: from designing an entire kitchen to the color of the napkins, everything was important and nothing could be forgotten.

One of the items on the list was “What on earth are we going to name the restaurant?” and it never seemed to get done. A name is a restaurant’s identity and is hugely important. It must be memorable, meaningful and unique to stand out from the sea of food options. At the same time, if it is too weird no one will ever spell it or get it right. I remember back in the day, the best restaurant in Vancouver, my city, was called “West”. It was a French-inspired concept with amazingly creative and tasty food, but they decided to spell it like in France “Ouest”. The result was an empty dining room and a city left wondering where the hell the restaurant was. You couldn’t find it in the phonebook or online and even if you walked right in front, you would miss it because of the spelling. They eventually changed its name and I learned a very important lesson.

With an opening date nearing closer and all the website, branding and marketing pending, we really needed to decide on a name. Then one day, Virginia received an email from her mother and I noticed the greeting “Hola Cuca…”. “What does Cuca mean?” I asked. She said it meant nothing, “It’s just the name my mom has called me since I was little and she only uses it when she is happy and I have been good”. “Voila!” I said to her, “that’s what we will call the restaurant: Cuca”. Something that means everything to us just as you mean everything to your mom. Spelt C-U-C-A and pronounced /Kooka/.