Giving Back with Guest Chefs at New Lugnutz Café

Marcotte Ford celebrated 56-plus years in the Holyoke, Mass., community with an $8.2M expansion last year, centered around a full-service restaurant that features a fun way of giving back.

Where did the idea for LugNutz Café come from, and how long have you had the café?

The idea for LugNutz Café came from my father, Bryan Marcotte, about 20 years ago, back when I was in high school. The name was trademarked in 2014. My dad is always thinking of outside-the-box ideas to make Marcotte Ford different from everyone else. He thought, why not add a café into the dealership? We started by having a local partner, The Log Cabin, come into the dealership and set up breakfast two days a week, Tuesdays and Saturdays, from 7 to 11 a.m. We were hoping that while people waited for their vehicle to be serviced, they could enjoy a hot cup of coffee and a bite to eat. When I say “a bite to eat,” we offered build-your-own omelets, waffles, sausages, pancakes, and fruit cups. No one was leaving hungry.

How has the café changed over the years?

Many customers asked for us to be open more days. Little did they know that, as meetings were being held with our contractor to remodel 1025 Main Street, we were planning on building a full-service restaurant in the middle of the dealership. Each week, more details were put into the café design as menu items were also being talked about.

When did the new restaurant open?

Our newly renovated dealership opened in September of 2018, and LugNutz Café started with a soft launch to our employees. Soon after, we opened to the public.

Breakfast and lunch are served Monday through Friday, and our Saturday hours are 7 to 11 a.m., serving breakfast. We offer a variety of weekly breakfast, lunch, soup, and smoothie specials. We just announced a burger special of the week. Our online ordering system allows guests to place their order ahead of time, or to-go.

The LugNutz Café “open to the public” sign on the street in front of Marcotte Ford continues to draw new people into the dealership, as they are curious to see what all the buzz is about.

What are some of the popular menu items?

Our menu is tasty and affordable, and we’ve garnered attention for naming many of the items after our business properties or the models of vehicles we sell. Things like Quick Lane Salads, MCTC Sandwiches, Hungry Expeditions, and Explorer Omelets.

In addition to our weekly specials, you can always find one of your classic favorites on the menu. Our pizzas and burgers are crowd pleasers, and we have fresh salads and sandwiches that are made to your liking. The number of toppings you can add to any item is just about endless. Perhaps best of all, our menu items are priced under $10.

Has the café helped with customer retention?

It has. The waiting area (which we now call the community area, because this is where everyone gathers) has several TVs, a high-top bar area with outlets that allow the customers to plug in and work, and a community table that invites people to sit and chat with other customers and employees. We also have a seating area that is often overflowing with happy customers eating breakfast or lunch.

We are starting to see more and more people come back to LugNutz Café, whether they have a service appointment or just want to stop by to enjoy the café. I think the café also helps create a more relaxed atmosphere, so people feel more comfortable doing business at Marcotte Ford. Once they’ve finished their coffee, a stack of pancakes, or their sandwich, their service advisor is coming around the corner to tell them their vehicle is ready, and they are leaving with a smile. We’ve received a lot of positive feedback from both longtime and new customers.

We’ve heard that the café is already having a positive impact on the community.

When we first opened, we delivered lunch to local businesses to help spread the word. Now we get asked to host and cater meetings at our dealership through LugNutz Café. Each month, we have a local community member act as a Guest Chef, where they help to serve one of their specialty recipes. For every order served that day, LugNutz Café donates $2 toward their local charity of choice. It has turned into a friendly competition of who can raise the most money!

LugNutz Café has also become a popular meeting place on Tuesday mornings. We love seeing different groups of people come in regularly and watch as they pull their tables together to invite others to join them.

The café has become a real focal point of the dealership. It’s like your kitchen at home, where everyone gathers together to enjoy a tasty meal and each other’s company. Our LugNutz team has become a great addition to the Marcotte Ford family. To say the least, we are having a blast and can’t wait to see where the café goes in the future.

What’s your personal favorite menu item?

I am a daily customer at the café. My favorite meal is a burger … with fries, of course!

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