A Beignet by Any Other Name
Coffee Call has a new name. Starting immediately, both its locations (the original in the Lamar River Oaks Center at 3260 Westheimer, 520-8291; and the other at 1818 Fountainview, 334-4414) will be known as Crescent City Beignets.

The old name struck me, and others too, as perfectly adequate. Why bother to change it?

But a company spokesman disagreed. The name was confusing, he said. People went to Coffee Call expecting another Starbucks. They went seeking lattes and flavoredcoffee beans and biscotti and leftdisgruntled when Coffee Call, which confines itself to New Orleans-style cafe au lait and fresh beignets, was unable to provide them.

A new name became a matter of some urgency -- but then, unable to come up with a name itself, in late January the company asked the public to pitch in. Talk about passing the buck! What's wrong with these people? When U.S. Steel changed its name to USX, did it appeal to the public? No, it did not. And neither did Bell Labs when it became Lucent Technologies.

Inspired, perhaps, by pity, as much as anything, the public rallied round. More than a thousand names were suggested -- far more than the company expected -- and the deluge forced Coffee Call to extend the February 28 deadline by nearly a month.

"We needed more time to sort through these things," explained the spokesman.
Well, the sorting is finished. Twenty-seven people suggested Crescent City Beignets or some version thereof, and each of the 27 qualifies for free beignets and coffee for two for a month.

Personally, I'm glad the whole thing's over. As it did many others, the decision to make a name change caught me off guard. In January, when the appeal went out, Coffee Call had been in business a mere nine months, and people complained that the fledgling company was being capricious.

There were worries, too, that the rechristening would start a trend. Would Tony's jump on the bandwagon and change its name? Would Ruggles?

As far as that's concerned, the jury is still out.
But for now, at least, let's hope that Crescent City Beignets is happy being Crescent City Beignets, and doesn't take it into its head in a month or two to change its name again.

-- Eric Lawlor


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