A modern take on nostalgia drives burger and beer fans to Ford’s Garage, which opened earlier this year in the Mall at Wellington Green. The growing Florida-based chain has more than a dozen locations.
“The history behind the concept started several years ago in Fort Myers. At the time, the owners came up with the idea, because that area was known as a vacation destination for Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and Harvey Firestone,” Ford’s Garage Vice President of Brand Development Tara Matheny said.
The restaurant’s décor is a step back in time to the dawn of the automobile age, feeding Wellington restaurant goers’ appetites by way of a Prohibition-era filling station. The scene is set from the moment you open the door at the entrance with its gas pump handles, flanked by two retro gas pumps.
Ford’s Garage truly gives a nostalgic feel with its throwback pieces of Americana. Several restored Ford Model Ts fill the 6,000-square-foot space for guests to admire as they enjoy a meal. “Between the history and nostalgia, the concept took off,” Matheny said.
The Wellington location, located just across from the mall’s food court, has taken off at a fast pace since its grand opening in June.
“The feel-good, innovative dining experience is filled with creativity and atmosphere,” said Keith Ledsome, a member of the Ford’s Garage management team. “You look at our nation’s history, and what momentum was behind this car, and that time is truly incredible. So, we’ve been able to develop synergy between the two. Old and new, so it’s exciting.”
The main bar has a Model T hanging as a centerpiece, complete with a working horn and “smoke” that spews from the back. A hand-pounded copper bar is aligned with neon-lit freeze rails, where customers can rest their drinks to keep them cold. Pennies adorn the far wall as a backsplash behind the beer taps.
Craft beer is part of the restaurant’s flair. There’s a selection of 150 beers in all, in homage to the Ford F-150. Even the servers get in the groove by dressing in mechanic-style shirts. “It’s the energy behind the brand and the team, going the extra mile to make it a great experience,” Matheny said.
There are many nuances to marvel at, such as the tire sinks in the restrooms as water flows through gas pumps turned into faucets. The napkins resemble shop-style rags with a hose clamp around them. Barrels serve as garbage cans, as bits and pieces of industrialism dot almost every space, sparking the imagination of both the young and old, to a different era.
While there is an extensive menu filled with salmon dishes, salads and seasonal items, the burgers are where the beef is. All Black Angus, they are served with the Ford Motor Company logo branded on the bun. Customers choose from a selection of the “Burgers of Fame” menu, which are named in recognition of community figures and each have a unique flavor profile.
“There’s a lot of good flavor profiles with the burger hall of fame. They’re a half-pound burger, fresh, never frozen, and they’re hand-pattied,” Matheny explained. “The Signature Burger in Wellington is named in honor of Mayor Anne Gerwig, which includes arugula, fried onion straws, tomato, sweet red onion marmalade and truffle bacon aioli on a brioche bun.”
The American Standard honors local car dealer Al Packer Ford, while the Model A Burger has a fried egg on it and recognizes local Olympian Margie Goldstein-Engle. The Jiffy Burger in honor of the Wellington Chamber of Commerce includes bacon and peanut butter, while the Patty Melt pays tribute to the service of fallen Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Cigo.
The appetizers also turn heads with their presentation. “Our signature appetizer is our jumbo onion rings, which come on a giant funnel tower, a piston, so it’s one more tie-in to our 1920s service station vibe,” Matheny said.
The wedge fries, as well as the secret recipe baked beans, rev up the meal as tasty and popular sides. Desserts include throw-back style milkshakes, funnel cake fries, a brownie sundae and key lime pie.
More than 300 seats between the interior and outdoor patio fill the space, which includes a pickup truck turned oversized table for a large group.
Visit during happy hour from 2 to 6 p.m. and get $3 premium well drinks and $2 off drinks and drafts. The frozen margaritas are extremely popular, as well as the five Ford’s Garage signature frozen spiked lemonades. There are more than 15 frozen drinks in all.
If you like your experience, be sure to sign up for the Motor Club Rewards, a loyalty program that offers a discount for every fourth visit.
Wellington is the chain’s first southeast Florida location. Expansion is planned across the Sunshine State to Daytona, Sarasota and St. Augustine, as well as in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. There are 13 locations currently open with several more under construction.
The Ford’s Garage team is geared up and thankful for the success it has received so far in Wellington, as they continue to mesh the horsepower of the Model T with the power of real horses in the “Equestrian Capital of the World.”
Ford’s Garage is located inside the Mall at Wellington Green at 10300 W. Forest Hill Blvd., near the Patio Verde entrance. Hours are Sundays, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.; and Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. For more information, call (561) 805-3673 or visit www.fordsgarageusa.com.