Sarasota Ford is soon launching Le Mans Kitchen, a first of its kind restaurant inspired by Ford’s history of racing at the 24 hours of Le Mans in France, nestled inside its dealership that will offer a world-class culinary experience. This month, the 3,367-square-foot, 38-seat private fine dining location will be unveiled to Sarasota Ford buyers and their guests, as well as Sarasota Ford automotive service customers. The kitchen team is led by Michelin Star recipient chef Jose Martinez of award-winning restaurant Maison Blanche.
Sarasota Ford Introduces Fine Dining Experience within Dealership
“Not only did we want to create something that was unlike anything anyone has ever imagined and turn the dealership experience completely upside down, but we also wanted to show appreciation to our loyal customers with a world-class experience,” said Matthew Buchanan, president of Buchanan Automotive Group. “Le Mans Kitchen will give customers Michelin Star level food and mocktails paired with a world-class, private club level experience, with unmatched ambiance.”
The new restaurant will take the place of the dealership’s former cafe. A nine-month renovation was done to transform the previous 1,275 square-foot space into the new restaurant that sits there today. Other dealership offerings for customers include a 11-seat movie theater and a relaxation room with hydro massage chairs.
“We have created a space that will completely immerse people,” said Mirza Velic, chief experience officer at Sarasota Ford. “When you walk inside Le Mans Kitchen, it’s like being transported out of a car dealership and into another place and time in the French countryside. Guests won’t want to leave and when they do, they’ll look forward to returning soon. It will feel like an intimate café with approachable luxury combined with top-notch cuisine.”
To launch the immersive and unique customer dining experience within the dealership, Sarasota Ford assembled an award-winning team in terms of customer service and culinary background, including Mirza Velic, chief experience officer at Sarasota Ford with an extensive customer service background and training from many high level brands, including The Ritz-Carlton; Tommy Klauber, restaurant consultant and award-winning restaurateur and chef; Blake Campbell, restaurant manager with a robust background at Selva Grill, The Ritz-Carlton and The Oaks Club; Jose Martinez, Michelin Star recipient and owner and executive chef at Maison Blanche on Longboat Key; and chef Joel Casillas, who has been cooking in the area’s top kitchens.
The elevated menu will feature American-inspired cuisine with a French accent, including Le Mans’ signature pillow pancakes, crème brûlée French toast, decadent, house ground prime burgers, heirloom caprese toast, carefully curated mocktails, milkshakes with a gelato base and made-to-order coffee, with beans ground per cup, among other specialty items. A seasonal menu will also be offered.
“Guests at Le Mans will enjoy the best of the best when they dine with us,” said Campbell. “Everything is made from scratch, sustainably sourced and fresh. People will taste the difference immediately, and there will certainly be something that satisfies everyone’s palate.”
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“When I first met with Matt Buchanan about this, I told him this was a crazy idea but that I am up for the challenge,” said Martinez. “Since I started in the restaurant business, I’ve always compared a restaurant to a car. The front of the house is the exterior. It needs to be clean and beautiful every day. The back of the house is the engine. If you don’t have a good engine, you cannot win any race. Cooking for me is not just about high-end items like Kobe beef or foie gras. I love cooking with any ingredients and as long as it is with good technique, is well seasoned and at the perfect temperature you can achieve a lot of things.”
Le Mans Kitchen is set to open on Monday, Dec. 11. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., with weekend hours to follow in 2024. Customers can begin making automotive service appointments now.