Ford Motor Company has quite a rich history as one of America’s most important manufacturing companies. That history also translates to a pretty cool dining experience, it turns out, as Ford’s Garage is proving at its growing number of restaurants across the country.
The original Ford’s Garage opened up in Fort Myers, Florida back in 2012, less than a mile from Henry Ford’s winter home. In the years since, the budding burger-and-craft-beer franchise has expanded to include a total of 16 locations, including 14 in Florida and one each in Indiana and Michigan.
Most recently, Ford’s Garage announced plans to add at least 15 new restaurants nationwide by the end of next year. Development deals have already been signed for 11 of those restaurants across Florida, Kentucky, Michigan, New York, Ohio and Texas.
Looking beyond 2022, the company plans to open 10-15 new locations annually.
“That’s to start with,” says brand president Steve Shlemon. “We’re proud of how far we’ve come along and excited about where we’re going. With our many Ford-inspired design cues and first-rate service, Ford’s Garage promises to continue to inspire additional locations all across the country.”
It all began when four entrepreneurs came together to set up the first Ford’s Garage in 2012 in Fort Myers, Florida with no affiliation with the automaker. When the concept caught the attention of the car maker in 2014, the restaurant group embraced the opportunity to build the brand together and signed a licensing agreement in 2016. Today, Ford’s Garage is the first and only restaurant to be allowed rights to Ford’s iconic blue-oval logo, as well as other of the automotive giant’s brand imagery, including archived historical photos, images of vehicles and actual Model Ts.
Such items have become standard décor at Ford’s Garage. Each restaurant is designed to look like a gas station from the 1920s and is filled with vintage Ford vehicles, fixtures, and gas pumps. Servers sport blue mechanic shirts. Blue shop cloths double as napkins. Even the bars inside the restaurants are decidedly vintage, mixing prohibition-style elements like brick, richly colored woods, and a copper bar top that’s hammered by hand. Many more unique features, too numerous to list, really make Ford’s Garage a fun place to visit and take pictures.
“Every aspect is branded,” Shlemon says. “It’s lots and lots of fun for everybody.”
However, aside from all of the nostalgia, Ford’s Garage is a good old fashioned burger and beer joint, too. Burgers are the main draw, with the finest varieties of meat (and a vegetarian option) coupled with all-natural aged cheeses, fresh toppings and gourmet sauces on artesian buns branded with the Ford logo. The restaurants also specialize in popular American comfort food options like homemade meatloaf, chicken wings and tenders, onion rings, and famous macaroni and cheese. Lighter fare such as fresh salads, grilled chicken, and fresh fish is also available.
What’s more, the beer list at Ford’s Garage is carefully mapped out with 150 different types of beer (40 on draft), with a heavy influence of American craft beers from all around the country. The restaurants also serve wine and cocktails, as well as nonalcoholic options.
“Ford’s Garage has proven itself a turnkey operation that will be a popular dining out choice in any neighborhood,” notes Shlemon. “We look forward to welcoming new franchise partners to the family and serving up even more of our burgers nationwide with a side of automotive history.”
Including a franchise fee of $50,000, the total investment to open a Ford’s Garage restaurant ranges from $1,461,800 to $6,353,000.
Most of Ford’s Garage’s forthcoming locations will be approximately 8,900 square feet with about 250 seats, and have between 95 and 115 employees.