Tampa-Based Ford's Garage to Open Several Miami Locations

Ford's Garage is opening several locations in Miami.
Ford's Garage is opening several locations in Miami. Photo courtesy of Ford's Garage
South Florida foodies who are fans of car culture will soon be in for a treat. The Tampa-based franchise Ford's Garage, an auto-themed burger-and-beer chain, is set to open seven new restaurants throughout Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties.

"The brand does well in the west side of Florida, so this comes as a natural expansion to us,” brand president Steve Shlemon tells New Times. “We expect to open as many as 15 total restaurants in the [southeast] region over the next several years.”

The first Ford’s Garage opened in 2012 in Fort Myers, a mile away from the winter estate owned by Henry Ford more than a century ago. The American industrialist became known for groundbreaking innovation of assembly lines, transforming cars into popular commodities, and for turning his corporation into an American icon.

At first, the concept’s name was a nod to Ford but had no association with the automotive manufacturer. A unique licensing agreement was negotiated and put in place in 2015, granting Ford’s Garage the right to Ford Motor Co.’s iconic blue-oval logo, as well as other brand imagery, memorabilia, and historical photos. At present, the brand boasts 17 restaurants, most of them scattered throughout Florida.

Each restaurant is designed to look like a gas station from the 1920s with garage doors, oil tank fixtures, and door handles resembling gas pumps. Servers sport blue mechanic shirts, while dining rooms are bedecked with Model A, Model T, and other vintage Ford vehicles hanging over the center bars, which mix brick, richly colored woods, and a hand-hammered copper bar top.
click to enlarge Burgers at Ford's Garage. - PHOTO COURTESY OF FORD'S GARAGE
Burgers at Ford's Garage.
Photo courtesy of Ford's Garage
The fun experience is complemented by a diverse menu, made up of items such as honey butter cornbread, hot pretzels, Thai chicken salad, and pulled-pork mac 'n' cheese. There are several sandwich options, along with burgers served on artesian buns branded with the Ford logo.

Ford’s Garage offers a Sunday brunch and a daily afternoon happy hour featuring a large selection of draft beer and cocktails, some of which — like a bloody mary made with tequila — Shlemon says, cater to a young clientele "that likes things done in a different way.” Guests can purchase from the brand's apparel line or enroll in a Motor Club loyalty program to enjoy promotions and discounts

Tasked with overseeing this phase of the brand’s growth, Shlemon, a former CEO of Benihana Corporation, says his team is scouting for locations in Kendall and Pembroke Pines to open in the next three to five years. It can be challenging to stand out in a city with a penchant for mixing dining and entertainment, but Shlemon believes Ford's Garage will resonate well with Miami and attract a regular clientele.

“Miami is extremely diverse with hard-working people who love going out and really enjoying life,” he says. “We will tailor some of the food to local tastes and plan to showcase local breweries. Also, our playlist and signature vibrant atmosphere caters to the whole family.”

Ford’s Garage.
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Juliana Accioly
Contact: Juliana Accioly