A concept imagined 20 years ago is finally bearing fruit — and vegetables and cheese and meats — at Marcotte Ford in Holyoke, Mass.
The family-owned dealership recently underwent an $8 million renovation, nearly doubling its size to 40,000 square feet. But despite the glistening new showroom and well-equipped service center, the main attraction isn't an F-150 or Mustang — it's LugNutz Cafe. The full-fledged diner, which serves breakfast and lunch Monday through Saturday, has increased sales and improved morale within the company, dealership leaders say. A version of the cafe existed in the old showroom but only served breakfast two days a week.
The idea was thought up 20 years ago by Bryan Marcotte, who trademarked the name in 2014, according to his son, Mike Marcotte, the dealership's president. He said his father, now treasurer at Marcotte Ford, got the idea after reading in Automotive News about a dealership that served breakfast.
"It's something that's kind of unique," Mike Filomeno, the general manager, said. "People who have to go to the dealership, it's like the dentist — you don't want to do it. Now, it's not a task or chore that they dread anymore. They enjoy coming down."
The dealership hired a consultant who owns a restaurant in the area to help design the diner. It's open to the public in addition to dealership customers and employees and is staffed by two full-time and two part-time workers.
The menu features Ford-themed food, such as the Galaxy Salad, Explorer Omelets and a number of pizzas labeled GT Specialties, Filomeno said. Everything is priced under $10.
"It's a bigger draw than the new dealership right now," Mike Marcotte said.
The rest of the dealership, which opened last month and has a grand opening planned for the fall, is worth talking about, too, he said.
Marcotte sells about 1,500 new, used and fleet vehicles per year and employs 114 workers, who needed more space. They had been in the same building since 1967, six years after it was founded by Mike Marcotte's grandfather, Al Marcotte.
"We just outgrew the facility based on what's going on in the marketplace," Filomeno said. "We knew we had to change to stay in business, survive and grow."
The team traveled to showrooms near Ford's headquarters in Dearborn, Mich., to see the latest facility improvements and design styles that Ford was implementing before it embarked on the 14-month project.
Marcotte tore down its 25,000-square-foot showroom to make way for the new building.
During construction, the team moved into a former Hyundai dealership building across the street that Marcotte purchased. That space will be used for its commercial sales department, and the showroom will feature F-series trucks and Transit vans.
"That enabled us to have a home and keep business going," Filomeno said. "It was a struggle in service, but we didn't miss a beat in sales."