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Drinking Buddies: Ford’s Garage
Nestled right in the heart of downtown St. Petersburg, Florida is a uniquely themed restaurant that’s bringing killer burgers and beer to the Burg – Ford’s Garage. This restaurant is anything but ordinary, featuring prohibition-style décor and vintage Ford memorabilia (yes, actual Ford Motor Company memorabilia, but more on that later), and boasts a menu full of prime burgers, comfort foods, and delicious cocktails. When I walked in, the first thing I noticed was the vintage Ford hovering above the bar, equipped with a functioning horn, lights, and tire smoke – instantly reminding me of riding in the rumble seat on my grandpa’s restored Model A when I was a kid. Fintech was lucky enough to sit down with Scott Estes, VP of V.I.B.E., to chat all things burgers, beverages, and Ford’s Garage.
Give us a little history. How did you become Ford’s Garage?: The original location opened in 2012 in Fort Myers, less than a mile from Henry Ford’s winter residence, and our logo was slightly different than it is today because of licensing. Eventually, the guys from Ford Motor Company heard about what we were doing and called us up to discuss. We were fully prepared to be hit with the cease-and-desist, but it turns out that they really loved the idea, so they gave their blessing to use the actual Ford logo, colors, everything. We signed a brand licensing agreement with them in 2014 and the rest is history!
What’s your favorite Ford vehicle?: You know, my family makes fun of me because it’s kind of a dad car, but I really love my Ford Flex. It’s a cool car and has so many features included. Outside of that, I’ve always liked Ford trucks.
Tampa Bay (or really all of central Florida) is pretty saturated, so what sets Ford’s Garage apart?:Our business is built around creating not just delicious foods and unique drinks – it’s about selling an experience. We pour so much effort and attention into every detail, right down to the napkins and restrooms (which are AWESOME by the way). I think we set ourselves apart because we’re a place that foodies, craft beer lovers, and car junkies can all come to celebrate the things they love.
What’s the most popular drink on your menu?: Definitely The Don’s Mom. It’s a blackberry margarita with the perfect amount of sweet and tart. We also sell a lot of craft beer, which we work really hard to keep as robust as possible. We have 40 taps that we rotate with everything from local craft beers to big brews. One that we’re super excited about is our collaboration with Motorworks Brewing called Low Light. It’s going to be a citrus lager with lime coming in March. (Sign. Me. Up.)
What’s the next big thing you see for the alcohol industry?: I think we’ll see a big shift to taprooms and tasting rooms soon – places where consumers can try a bunch of different things in one setting, and craft beer or spirits makers can get in front of the customer directly. We’re also seeing a resurgence of classic cocktails and a move towards boutique, or small batch spirits, so I think that will continue for a while.
What’s your favorite thing to do in Tampa Bay?: I love going to Lightning games, and I like to go boating, play golf – basically anything outside. We also actually have a pretty great music scene here in Tampa Bay. I’m from Nashville, and while it’s not quite on par with Lower Broadway yet, there’s a grassroots movement to make it something awesome. Amalie Arena has done a lot to pull in great acts over the last few years, so I’m excited to see what that grows into.
So for you, why Fintech?: Seriously, for Ford’s Garage, Fintech was a no brainer. There are so many moving parts to managing a successful beverage alcohol business, and Fintech really simplifies all of it, from payment to reconciliation. You’re the only ones who do what you do, and it makes everything so easy when opening and running new locations.
Thanks, Scott! And we can definitely say the same – All 11 Ford’s Garage locations are home to a one-of-a-kind experience. If you want gourmet burgers and an extensive selection of craft brews, be sure to stop by a Ford’s Garage location soon!
To find out more about why Ford’s Garage selected Fintech as the OneSource® for their beverage alcohol management, contact us today!