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Popular Ford’s Garage Restaurant Opens First Indiana Location at Hamilton Town Center

Photographer / Michael Durr

An auto-themed restaurant concept located in Central Indiana, home of the Indy 500? Makes sense.

Ford’s Garage, a Florida-based restaurant chain with 12 stores in the Sunshine State and one in Dearborn, Michigan, is officially adding a location in Indy to its lineup, and founder Mike McGuigan says the decision was a no-brainer.

“As we continue to expand out of Florida, and being a tourist destination on the west coast of Florida, a large portion of our patrons and tourists are snowbirds and come from the midwest, so there’s been a built-in brand awareness,” McGuigan explains. “So it was really a matter of time before we started in the midwest states rather than breaking into the east or west coasts.”

Indy’s association with auto and racing culture played an additional role in McGuigan’s decision, and the Noblesville location, in the space previously occupied by Mo’s Irish Pub in Hamilton Town Center, features decor that ties into that culture.

“When you combine all these factors, Indianapolis was a first choice outside of Florida to build a presence other than our Dearborn, Michigan, restaurant,” say McGuigan, who first launched the Ford’s Garage concept in downtown Fort Myers — less than one mile from the former winter residence of Henry Ford himself — in 2012, and began scouting locations outside of Florida two years ago. 

The eatery, like all of its sister stores, is a casual, all-ages establishment with a menu full of classic American fare like burgers, wings and salads, as well as craft beer, wine and cocktails. The visual aesthetic in each Ford’s Garage is a throwback to prohibition-era taverns and 1920s service stations, with gas pumps, memorabilia and actual Ford vehicles adorning the bar and dining areas.

“We’re very burger-centric but almost anyone can find something to satisfy them on the menu,” says Sam Tancredi, Indianapolis operating partner with Ford’s Garage. “For the fish lovers, we sell a blackened salmon and two tuna dishes that are big sellers, and there are chicken tenders and a great French onion soup.”

Several burgers on the menu will be named after notable former and current Hoosiers and iconic figures associated with the city and state, including former Indiana Pacer Reggie Miller, former Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, as well as legendary auto racing drivers and Indy 500 winners A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti.

“We’re so excited for the community here to experience the restaurant,” Tancredi says. “We have two Ford Model A cars inside the building, one over the bar and one in the side dining room. There’s an old Ford truck out on the front patio that customers can also experience, and they can actually eat on the truck bed. It’s really a fun concept – kids love it, and car buffs can appreciate it.”

The Ford’s team decided to tear down several walls and a refrigeration space in the former Mo’s Irish Pub bar area in order to create a more open floor plan in the approximately 7,100-square-foot building. Five patio doors will open onto 1,200 feet of outdoor patio space for the spring and summer months.

Tancredi says local support behind the restaurant has been largely positive since Ford’s Garage leaders announced plans to open the northside restaurant.

“When we made the announcement we were surprised how many people here had heard about us,” Tancredi says. “A lot of people here have been down to Fort Myers at the original downtown location or the other ones in Florida.”

McGuigan has plans to open at least two more Ford’s Garage locations in Indiana over the next few years.

“I’ve always been a theme guy and always admired Walt Disney, and I think to be successful you have to offer an experience beyond just a good meal since you can get that at home,” he says. “We like to hit the service, the food and the atmosphere, and also try to hit the customers’ senses — sight, sound and smell — to keep them coming back.”

Ford’s Garage is located at 13193 Levinson Lane #100 at Hamilton Town Center in Noblesville. For more information and to view a full food and drink menu, visit fordsgarageusa.com or call 317-878-FORD.

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