Numerous time-honoured brands have been authenticated by governments and other organizations; however, there is little understanding of this special but important type of brand. Drawing on signalling theory, this study investigates four key aspects of time-honoured restaurants: brand heritage as a brand signal, brand evaluation (i.e., brand authenticity), consumer experience (i.e., nostalgic experiences) and behavioural outcomes (i.e., purchase intention). A total of 366 local residents were surveyed in Beijing and Shanghai, the two largest metropolitan areas in China. The study results show that brand heritage significantly affects purchase intention both directly and indirectly through brand authenticity and nostalgic experiences. The findings of this study provide important insights into how to increase restaurant patrons’ perceived brand authenticity and purchase intention.