An unassuming auto service station in Louisville, Kentucky looks much like it did when mechanics were changing car tires, with peeling paint and a tin-ceilinged canopy. But the early-twentieth century structure is the latest in a line of gourmet eateries in the city’s burgeoning arts district—outside, there’s an art installation that plays out over three months showing two vintage cars in a (very) slow-motion collision.
Garage Bar aims to keep some grit in a gentrifying neighborhood while offering a comfortable hang-out where guests can enjoy southern-inspired food by Chef Michael Paley.
“We wanted to leave the space feeling as untouched as possible,” said designer Molly Swyers. A century’s worth of grease has been replaced by a reclaimed wood floor and ceiling, exposed ductwork, and a custom-made Italian pizza oven. The interior masonry was painted, and simple light bulbs are coiled around a metal frame over the bar, all in keeping with a mechanic aesthetic inside the 2,600-square-foot space. “We kept a few touches of the old garage—we brought back a wall-mounted tire rack—but we didn’t want to take the garage theme too far,” Swyers said. New operable garage doors were installed, allowing the dining room to overflow on an outdoor patio, where local artist Monica Mahoney created a service-station-inspired sign for the building’s exterior.