What happens when a restaurant uses the Ford Motor Company name without asking first? Hopefully, not a lawsuit…
“[The restaurant] got a phone call from the licensing division of Ford Motor Company … saying they stopped in the restaurant, liked it, thought was pretty cool and didn't want to send a cease-and-desist letter,” Ford’s Garage brand president Steve Shlemon told Nation’s Restaurant News.
“Sometimes you're better off begging for forgiveness,” he continued.
Ford’s Garage — the casual-dining restaurant in question — is headquartered in Fort Myers, Fla. and was started by four entrepreneurs in 2012. It’s less than a mile from the winter home of Ford founder Henry Ford.
In 2014, the automaker caught on to the restaurant, but it wasn’t annoyed — it wanted to start a partnership.
Two years later, Ford’s Garage and Ford Motor Company officially entered a licensing agreement allowing the restaurant to use the automaker’s logo and old cars inside each location.
“It’s a getaway for people to go back in time,” Shlemon said.
Each restaurant is designed to look like a gas station from the 1920’s, complete with vintage Ford vehicles, Model T’s, vintage gas pumps and archived historical images.
Servers don blue mechanic shirts and the napkins are designed like mechanic cloths.
The bar is even modeled after the prohibition style, using brick, wood and copper to create a vintage feel at each location.
“Every aspect is branded,” Shlemon said in a release. “It’s lots and lots of fun for everybody.”
There are currently 16 locations of Ford’s Garage, 14 in Florida and one each in Indiana and Michigan. The brand has some big plans for expansion in the years ahead, plans way beyond the borders of its home state.
This year, the restaurant plans to open 15 new restaurants. Eleven franchising agreements have already been signed in several new states including Kentucky, New York, Ohio and Texas, plus there are new deals in locations with existing units, like Michigan and Florida.
Each restaurant is approximately 8,900 square feet with around 250 seats and between 95 and 115 employees. Franchising fees are $50,000 and, according to the company, total investment to open a Ford’s Garage restaurant ranges from $1,461,800 to $6,353,000.
Beyond 2022, the brand hopes to open 10-15 new units each year for the foreseeable future.
It’s not just nostalgia and brand name getting this restaurant to new states, it’s the food.
The menu consists of everyone’s favorites: beer and burgers.
The buns are branded with the Ford logo and sandwiched between them is a juicy meat (or veggie) patty topped with cheeses, toppings and sauces.
There are over 150 different types of beer on the menu with over 40 on draft, mostly American craft beers from across the country, but not exclusively American.