Le Mans Kitchen at Sarasota Ford Redefines Fine Dining

Good Bite

The souffle pancake with fresh berries, whipped creme fraiche and lemon honey drizzle. Photo Courtesy of Le Mans Kitchen.

Get fueled up on your next visit to Sarasota Ford. Last December, this car dealership unveiled Le Mans Kitchen, a unique dining experience for their customers. The team behind Le Mans Kitchen includes Matthew Buchanan, the president of the Buchanan Automotive Group, Mirza Velic, Sarasota Ford’s chief experience officer, Blake Campbell, the restaurant manager, Tommy Klauber, a restaurant consultant and chefs Jose Martinez and Joel Casillas.

With a movie theater and relaxation room, Sarasota Ford is actively redefining what it means to be a car dealership by creating a space where customers can enjoy themselves. At the same time, they receive excellent service on their vehicle. The dealership’s team was searching for a way to thank their customers, eventually landing on the idea of a fine dining experience with a twist. Drawing on inspiration from the French influence on the culinary world, the team realized that they could connect French cuisine with Ford through the lens of the 24-hour-long Le Mans race. In 1966, Ford faced the challenge of building a car that could beat a Ferrari in Le Mans.

“It really was a miracle. They never could win anything before, and then they just go out and win first, second and third place in the race,” says Buchanan. “It made Ford a racing icon, they got heavily into Mustangs and everything else and it put them on the map. We thought with all that racing history, us doing a lot of Mustang sales and our Ford GT in the showroom, we thought ‘Why not turn this place into that world?’ We wanted people who don’t have the opportunity to go to Le Mans, France, to be able to step into a different place and time.”

Entering the restaurant space, it’s easy to forget that you’re at a car dealership. Wood accents and blue and white tile floors give the space a European flair, and the painted dishes that adorn the walls evoke the peaceful French countryside. Guests will find subtle nods to racing, like a checker-patterned floor, throughout the dining areas and the even menu. For a quick bite, customers can grab a coffee and the signature tire-shaped croissant, filled with peanut butter pastry cream in-house and baked by the beloved Rendez-Vous French Bakery. From the morning menu, guests can choose from delectable dishes like the souffle pancake with fresh berries, whipped creme fraiche and lemon honey drizzle. The mid-day menu offers playful versions of classic dishes, like the Caesar salad, with half a romain heart filled with layers of blackened chicken, topped with dressing and lightly broiled. A thin crouton tops the inventive dish, and the warm dressing contrasts beautifully with the crisp and cool lettuce, giving a fun spin to an icon. The restaurant also offers delicious mocktails that further enhance the dining experience. The menu is constantly evolving, and customers can look forward to new items during future visits.

While only Sarasota Ford customers can dine at Le Mans Kitchen, anyone can get service on their car to qualify as a customer and receive a voucher for the restaurant. “We want people to truly love coming in for service,” adds Buchanan, “and we are trying to completely redefine customer service.”

Le Mans Kitchen at Sarasota Ford, 707 S. Washington Blvd., Sarasota, 941-366-3673, lemanskitchen.com.

The souffle pancake with fresh berries, whipped creme fraiche and lemon honey drizzle. Photo Courtesy of Le Mans Kitchen.

Le Mans Kitchen

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