Car Dealer Restaurants: Curiosity or Trend?

Mercedes-Benz of Rocklin and Bistro 33 open dining spot.

by on Aug.27, 2009

Would you like an E-class for dessert?

Would you like an E-class for dessert?

Auto dealers and restaurants have been getting together for years now as automalls have grown in size to include various types of retailers, including fast food outlets and restaurants that are more formal. Larger stand-alone dealerships include a canteen of sorts where customers waiting for service can grab a quick bite or cup of java.

On the more ambitious end of the scale is Mercedes-Benz of Rocklin. The northern California dealership has just opened a restaurant this week inside its store, “Bistro 33 at Rocklin.” It’s said to be an upscale restaurant.

“While enjoying a meal, and looking across the lake at our dealership situated in Town Center, we thought why not bring two great brands together under one roof,” says George Grinzewitsch Jr., owner of , as well as Mercedes-Benz dealerships in Sacramento and El Dorado Hills.

The new restaurant is open seven days a week, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner with a full bar.

“Customers will experience the ultimate luxury destination while dining on infused interpretations of timeless American classic fare with a modernistic sensibility at appealing prices,” says Matt Haines, one of the prolix owners of the restaurant.

This might be the original dealership dining room.

This might be the original dealership dining room.

The menu starts at $5.95 for a bowl of breakfast oatmeal, and progresses all the way up to $24.95 for a grilled rib eye steak at lunch or dinner. Side dishes are not standard equipment of course, but in keeping with auto practices – optional. There’s “wilted spinach” for $4.95. Then you have to add a nice California red wine. So figure $30 to $50 for a decent one. For big shooters a reserve list is available that is … well if you have to ask you can’t afford it.

And, if you act right now, you can lease a 2010 Mercedes-Benz E 350 Sport sedan for only $699 month for 36 months after you put down $6044 taxes and license fees, which is quite a bit more than the cost of dinner for two even if you get into the reserve list.

What this ultimately means in the larger auto universe, we’re not quite sure.

Last year while at the Moscow auto show Paul Eisenstein visited the Major City “dealer village,” which represents nearly a dozen different import brands. In the central building, there are all the entertainment facilities you would expect in a mall, including a restaurant, a movie theater and a (free) game room, where bored motorists play shoot-em-up games while waiting for auto repairs to be completed.

Large dealership groups in the U.S. are offering similar concepts, of course. If we thinking upscale, there is Dal Toro, a restaurant above a Lamborghini dealership in Las Vegas that I visited once. It is part of the Palazzo Casino complex, which includes shops, restaurants, boutiques, a spa and a convention center that can accommodate groups up to 13,000 people.

Lexus Escondido, a dealership in San Diego County off Interstate 15 is about to open this fall a French restaurant on the top floor of its new home. 

For budgets that are more modest, Galpin Ford in the Los Angeles area has the , which opened in 1966. It was way ahead of its time.

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