Tampa Chain Fords Garage To Expand Nationally Add 15 Franchises By 2023
Fords Garage wants to be Tampas next Outback Steakhouse.
The burgers-and-beer restaurant chain has announced ambitious plans to expand nationally, adding 15 franchise locations by 2023. The company already has development deals in place for 11 of those franchises, including restaurants in New York, Texas, Ohio and Kentucky. After that, owners hope to add 10 to 15 new franchises per year.
That Ford name is so popular around the country that it really gives us a little bit of an edge when we get ready to open up a restaurant, said Fords Garage president Steve Shlemon. Everybody knows the name.
Currently, only two of Fords Garages 16 locations sit outside Florida one in Michigan and one in Indiana. The rest are in the Sunshine State, including restaurants in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Brandon, Wesley Chapel and Westchase. Theres also an outpost at Amalie Arena, not far from the companys downtown Tampa headquarters.
Founded in 2012 near Henry Fords winter home in Fort Myers, Fords Garage has a unique licensing agreement with the Ford Motor Co., enabling them to hang Model Ts and Model As above the bar and splash the Ford logo all around. Restaurants have the industrial brick and copper feel of an old Prohibition auto shop. The bathroom sinks are made from tires and fuel pump nozzles.
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Fords Garage estimates the investment cost of opening a franchise ranges from $1.4 million to just over $6.3 million. Each location will have between 95 and 115 employees.
Shlemon said Fords Garage has had conversations with potential franchisees in Arizona, Illinois and North Carolina. They also want to add more company-owned restaurants both in and out of Florida.
The company is also looking for opportunities to partner with local Ford dealerships in each market. In St. Augustine, a pop-up at a dealership was so successful that the dealer eventually partnered on a brick-and-mortar restaurant adjacent to its Lincoln dealership.
Theyre extremely happy with it, Shlemon said. Theyre selling a ton of Lincolns because of the foot traffic going to our restaurant.
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Fords Garage Restaurant Building
Bozard Ford Co. bought the closed Gander Mountain store to expand its dealership and include the dining amenity that will be open to the public.
Fords Garage restaurant plans to open in the former Gander Mountain building now Bozard Ford Lincoln in St. Augustine.
St. Johns County issued a permit for the $900,000 interior build-out for Fords Garage at 550 Outlet Mall Blvd., owned by Bozard Ford Co.
Bozard Ford bought the property for expansion and conversion into a Bozard Lincoln dealership, where Fords Garage will operate.
Ken Franklin Homes of Riverview is the contractor.
Bozard Ford Lincoln operates at 540 Outlet Mall Blvd.
Fords Garage describes itself as a neighborhood burger and beer joint with the vibe of a 1920s service station. It includes vintage Ford vehicles, gas pumps and fixtures.
The bars feature prohibition-style elements of old brick, rich wood, and a hand-hammered copper bar top.
Fords Garage says it serves Black Angus beef, turkey, chicken and vegetarian products. It also offers meatloaf, chili, macaroni and cheese, salads, grilled chicken and fish.
It also serves craft, draft and bottle beers, wine and cocktails as well as nonalcoholic options.
Fords Garage said it opened its first location in 2012 in historic downtown Fort Myers, less than a mile from Henry Fords winter residence.
It operates 12 restaurants in Florida and one each in Indiana and Michigan.
Bozard Ford bought the closed Gander Mountain store in 2018.
Fords Garage A Burger And Beer Chain Speeding Along Via Franchising
At every Fords Garage, you cant miss the classic 1929 Model A Ford atop the bar area, … as in its Wesley Chapel, Florida location.
Courtesy of Ford’s Garage
Fords Garage was launched in Fort Meyers, Florida as a classic beer and burger eatery in 2012. Its name derives from its proximity to Henry Fords winter home, the American industrialist who founded Ford Motor Company.
Since then the restaurant chain has expanded to 16 outposts, 14 of which are located in Florida with one each in Indiana and Michigan. All are franchised.
When Fords Garage first debuted, it had no association with Ford Motor Company, other than its name. But when the auto manufacturer learned of its existence, it embraced the idea of collaborating on a licensing agreement, providing the rights to present its model-T Fords, blue-oval logo and certain historical photos, and granting rights to sell a variety of Ford memorabilia including hats and t-shirts.
Ford receives a percentage of restaurant sales, explains Steve Shlemon, president of Fords Garage.
Moreover, Fords dealers have been granted an ability to buy into the franchises as local investors. So far dealers in St. Augustine, Daytona Beach and Orlando have become part-owners of Fords Garage.
Fords Garage, dedicated to comfort food, with a large selection of ales, is showing signs of franchising growth despite the steep competition.
We customize our food. You can eliminate buns if youd like, Shlemon explains.
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Job Posting For Server At Ford’s Garage
- Server experienced preferred, but not necessary.
- Knowledge of basic restaurant hospitality and fully engaged, service minded attitude.
- Food Safety certification, as state law requires
- Able to stand for 10 hours.
- Able to lift at least 50 pounds
- Good hearing for safety and accurate communication
- Basic computer usage skills
Ford’s Garage Menu And Prices
|Add to any salad: Chicken $3.95, angus beef $5.95, shrimp $5.95, ahi tuna $6.95. Dressing selections: Sweet onion balsamic vinaigrette, bleu cheese, italian, smoky ranch, caesar strawberry vinaigrette, oil and vinegar, balsamic vinegar|
|Berries & Gorgonzola||Mixed greens, dried cranberries, fresh blueberries, candied walnuts, gorgonzola cheese, strawberry vinaigretteMORE|
|0||$8.95||Iceberg and romaine blend, hard boiled egg, tomato, aged sharp cheddar, bacon, chick peas, cucumber, red onion, smoky ranch dressingMORE|
|Romaine, caesar dressing, parmesan, croutonsMORE|
|Iceberg wedge, crumbled bleu cheese, applewood smoked bacon, red onion, tomato, bleu cheese dressingMORE|
|Grilled chicken, bacon, hard boiled eggs, tomato, cucumber, crumbled bleu cheese, choice of dressingMORE|
|0||$9.50||Fresh baby spinach, red onion, pine nuts, hard boiled egg, applewood smoked bacon, mandarin oranges, sweet onion vinaigretteMORE|
|All burgers are served with iceberg lettuce, tomato, onion, fresh cut french fries and pickle|
|Served with fresh cut fries|
|Cavatappi pasta with aged sharp cheddar cheeseMORE|
|Pulled pork with bourbon BBQ sauce atop cavatappi pasta, with aged sharp cheddar cheese sauceMORE|
|1/4 Pound maine lobster and aged sharp cheddar cheese sauce over cavatapi pastaMORE|
|Seasoned shrimp and chicken sauteed in cajun cream sauce, over cavatappi topped with scallionsMORE|
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