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Nisou Reigate

In August, we interviewed YiaYia’s, which had established a solid reputation in the landscape of independent Reigate eateries as a place to go for fresh seasonal, authentically made Greek food.

A recent trademark debate means the business has been obliged to rethink the name YiaYia’s and come up with something equally as meaningful.

We caught up with Anthony Panayi to understand more about YiaYia’s predicament and how he arrived at the new name, Nisou.

To start with, why did you have to change your name?

Our original name, YiaYia’s was trademarked by another restaurant, who are looking to expand closer to Reigate. So, when the owner contacted me to have a conversation, I completely understood their reasons and it just made sense that we needed to change our name.

This restaurant was always going to be YiaYia’s to me. I hadn’t looked at trademarks prior to opening, which was an oversight on my behalf. YiaYia (meaning ‘Nan’ in Greek) was and always will be the motivation and history behind the restaurant for me.

So, we decided to start again afresh and build from there.

For anyone who doesn’t already know, can you tell me a little bit of a backstory behind your name Nisou?

Nisou is the name of the town where my YiaYia was born and lives today. It’s a small village with only 2,200 people living there. It's very similar to Reigate, where people are moving out of the capital and moving to the suburbs. It’s made up of bakeries and a few local shops with lots of families.

We always stayed there as kids. The house my YiaYia lives in now has been in the family for many generations, my YiaYia inherited the house from my great-grandfather. When my YiaYia’s time comes, my Dad, Auntie and Uncles will inherit the house as has happened through many generations of our family.

Talk us through the process of changing your name.

The process was quite stressful, with two sides to the process. For myself, my family and the team’s point of view, there was an emotional connection to the name YiaYia’s. There was also a practical side to the process with regards to changing menus, signage, social media, and lots of paperwork. It was tough emotionally to be reminded each day that we had to change our name, but practically we had a smooth transition. The menus, signage, and social media platforms were all relatively easy to change.

How have your guests reacted to the name change?

The reaction from our guests has been positive, I’m really pleased with it. The main concern was that our guests would think that we had sold the business or that it had changed owners. We send letters to residents in the houses nearby every 3 months to let them know when we’ve changed our menu, so we mentioned our name change in a letter when the time came. We’ve been active on social media posting on We Love Reigate and we contacted Your Marketing Team too. The core focus for us is keeping our local community happy and to encourage regular guests.

We’ve recently seen an increase in new guests with 80% of our dinner trade being first-time diners. Initially, new guests were confused - they were booking with YiaYia’s but when they dined with us, Nisou was printed on our menus. This gave us an opportunity to explain what was happening during our transition phase. This way if these guests had a good time 3 weeks ago when they booked YiaYia’s they weren’t confused when they wanted to book 3 weeks later to dine at Nisou.

Has anything else changed in your business since the new name has launched?

Our business personality has stayed the same – the only thing that has changed is the name. The story, the connection, the ‘why’ is all the same. I believe everything happens for a reason, and choosing the name Nisou which has such a strong community married nicely with our restaurant being in Reigate where we’re building a strong community of loyal guests.

One thing that has changed is the variety of food we now offer. When the restaurant was YiaYia’s we would only serve food my YiaYia would make in her home. Today, as Nisou, we have been able to be more creative with the menu and offer traditional dishes which you might find in Nisou but that my YiaYia wouldn’t necessarily make.

Do you have any tips for other businesses who might need to change their name?

As a new business owner, I’m learning all the time. One piece of advice I would give is to make sure that your new name is closely connected to your original ‘why’. This has made it easy for my team and family and I to transition through this name change. If Nisou didn’t mean anything to me and I couldn’t connect to it, that would’ve made it difficult and would’ve felt quite lonely. If you lose the connection to the name, that’s when you start to lose the passion and when you lose the passion, it can become a domino effect. Make sure that your name means something to you.

We have kept the two Y’s in our window which will always remind us of our ‘why’.

The significance of their business name really shone through when we were chatting to Anthony. To harness the passion and motivation behind your business, it’s important to trade with a name that you feel connected to and that resonates with your target audience.

In Reigate we are lucky to have some fantastic shops and eateries, some of which have some unique business names which mean a lot to their respective owners:

Cullenders – Joelle & Marc Cullender gave up their advertising careers and followed a dream to open a Deli in 2008. Cullenders Delicatessen & food store soon evolved into a second site and before long the team moved into a larger venue becoming Cullender’s Parkside, a thriving restaurant in Reigate.

Hatay – Hatay is named after World City of Gastronomy, Hatay Province in Antakya, Turkey. Chef Hakan and Manager Ahmet have strong connections to Hatay and have been influenced by traditional regional Hatay cuisine.

Balfe’s Bikes – Richard Balfe opened his first bike shop in 2008, Balfe’s Bikes has remained an independent business run by cyclists for cyclists. A group of cycling enthusiasts and professionals who, between them, have an incredible pool of technical skills.

If you’re just starting to brainstorm ideas for a business, make sure you do your due diligence to find out if your ideas are trademarked. From there, pick a business name that resonates with you and your audience. Your name forms a major part of your business’ identity, so be sure to pick something that aligns perfectly with your overall purpose and ‘why’.