By JESSICA STRACHAN
DEARBORN — With its doors open for just about two months, business is booming at Ford’s Garage, one of Dearborn’s newest restaurants to hit the Michigan Avenue scene.
The restaurant celebrates a concept that is fun and timeless, said owner and restaurateur Billy Downs: the unique heritage of the Ford Motor Co. and how Henry Ford changed the world.
“This place has been a great fit for the community,” said Downs, who formerly owned and co-founded bd’s Mongolian Grill.
Ford’s Garage, which started in Florida, is an official licensee of Ford Motor Co., and Downs’ Dearborn location is the first in Michigan.
“Business has been fantastic,” he said. “We are experiencing record sales volume for our company, and we have received a tremendous amount of support from the region.”
Ford’s Garage celebrates the heritage of Ford automobiles and Henry Ford himself, but takes it even further, with a bar and restaurant that goes above and beyond in celebrating car culture, history, and Americana.
The facade of the building is a nod to 1920s service stations, from the color scheme down to the era-specific gas pumps out front. As cars pull up, a hose triggers a service bell, just as they did a century ago.
Several Model A’s and Model T’s from the 1920s and ’30s are on site, parked out front and towering above the two bars inside. A 1930 Model A is situated above the main bar and the second bar features a 1923 Model T, an automobile the restaurant discovered was built 20 years to the day after Ford Motor Co. was born.
The experience continues inside, with rare photographs courtesy of The Henry Ford and classic signs adorning the walls. Service stations of the 1920s were often fashioned out of old barns, so lighting has been rigged to shine through wooden slats to mimic a barn-like effect. The staff wear service station-inspired uniforms, too.
It’s those special touches that intrigued first-time diners Pat and Jim Marusak. The former Dearborn residents now live in Wayne but wanted to sample the new burger and beer staple. They most appreciated the decor and details, they said.
“It was unique,” Pat Marusak said. “In the bathroom, the sinks were made out of a tire and when you sit down to eat they give you your silverware in a shop towel with a hose clamp.”
“They have a beer keg for a urinal,” Jim Marusak added. “That was different.”
Marketing director Anton Botosan said the restaurant has been a hit in the community for its unique spin on burgers and wide selection of Michigan craft beers, all in an energetic setting.
“Dearborn has really embraced us and people are traveling in from a lot of places, which is really cool,” Botosan said, adding that he interacts with each customer who leaves a review. That’s more than 600 so far.
“Ever since we opened our doors it’s been an exciting place to visit. It’s always vibrant, always exciting. People are still very interested in visiting Ford’s Garage and we’ve had tons of people already become regulars.”
Downs said he’d like Ford’s Garage to become a staple in Dearborn.
“I’d like people to remember that this is an energetic and fun dining experience,” he said. “We focus on specializing in prime burgers and craft beers, but it’s the totality of the experience that brings it all together.”
Cristina Sheppard-Decius, executive director of Downtown Dearborn, said the restaurant has resonated in Dearborn, and also has regional appeal, drawing guests in from the train station and those on their way to the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation.
“Ford’s Garage speaks to the history that is so rooted here in this community and showcases that in a fresh, new way,” she said. “Regionally, it is the type of restaurant that people are craving.”
Ford’s Garage is at 21367 Michigan Ave. For more information, call 313-752-3673.
(This story was reprinted from Metromode Media. It also is available here.)