For the first time in the automaker’s history, you can now taste a little bit of Ford Motor Co. as well as see, feel, hear and smell it.
The automaker has extended rights to the Ford brand and Blue Oval in a licensing agreement with FG Restaurant Group, a Fort Myers, Fla., company that has begun opening a chain of Ford’s Garage restaurants.
Under the deal, the 1920s-themed burger and craft beer restaurant and bar — whose signature feature is an authentic Model T suspended over the bar — can now use Ford’s Blue Oval, historical photographs and antique vehicles, and sell other Ford merchandise at its three locations in Fort Myers, Estero and Cape Coral, Fla.
The first restaurant opened in 2012 in Fort Myers.
“We are now partners, which allows us to take our brand right to the customer’s table in the casual dining industry,” said John Nens, manager of Ford brand licensing.
The deal closed last month after about six to eight months of review, which Nens said is a typical time frame for a licensing deal. FG management approached Ford about the deal.
Nens declined to comment on the financial terms of the agreement.
Ford generates about $2 billion annually from licensing deals that cover the Blue Oval and other related properties.
The automaker has about 400 licensing agreements in effect. Licensed products include Mustang cologne, a Power Wheels ride-on Mustang, F-150 toys and Ford apparel.
Nens said that in the research process, Ford studied other branded restaurants and taste-tested the menu at Ford’s Garage.
“Great brands appeal to all five senses,” Nens said. “We’ve always had four of the five senses nailed down … now we can finally round out the five senses.”
The partnership is looking to expand restaurant locations outside of Florida, specifically sites in southeast Michigan where Ford already has a significant branding presence, Nens said.
He added that the restaurant’s base location of Fort Myers was a favorite vacation spot for company founder Henry Ford, as well as his friends and fellow inventors Thomas Edison and Harvey Firestone.
In addition to celebrating the Ford legacy, the restaurant chain offers a discount to all retired Ford employees.
“Just say you’re a Ford retiree, and you’ll get a discount,” Nens said.