As a gyudon addict I have noticed that the names of the three major national restaurant chains all end in "ya" but they used two different characters:
- "吉野家" (Yoshinoya)
- "松屋" (Matsuya)
- "すき家" (Sukiya)
Other shops and restaurants I've noticed just use the hiragana instead:
- "や" (ya)
So is there a subtle difference where one is more like restaurant and the other is more like shop/store? And is the hiragana a handy way to be ambiguous or would people reading such a sign immediately know whether "や" stood for "屋" or "家" based on their language intuition?
While I'm at it, is this yet another character for "ya" used in the same contexts?