Vinsetta Garage: Moto City History’s Never Tasted So Great

Curt Catallo recreated the well-worn and well-loved mechanics shop that was built in 1919 into a brush-steel restaurant that serves reimagined home cooking.

Vinsetta Garage restaurant
In 2010, the oil and grease were wiped up and the jacks and drill bits were put away as the oldest operating garage east of the Mississippi, Vinsetta Garage, shut its doors after 91 years of service.

Vinsetta Garage
Turning an Auto Garage into a restaurant without erasing the original character is not easy. In order for the place to be clean enough to serve food and pass inspections, many would encourage you to strip out all the old quirks, paint it white and start over. The owners of the Vinsetta Garage restaurant cared too much about the patina of the old place to do that.

There was one thing they knew for certain: they could not wipe out Vinsetta’s character and charm or take the cheesy, gimmicky route in their re-do. They also wanted didn’t want to disappoint the hard core automobile buffs, racers and historians behind the garage.

Vinsetta Garage inside
“We didn’t tear everything out of there right away. We thought maybe we could use this… The two big skylights for example. I thought what a marvel to have these in this building. We wanted to preserve what was there instead of adding new things that don’t have a relationship to the rest of the building. I’ve seen that happen before … buildings that have all this character but something new is popped in there that doesn’t fit and that character is gone.”

Vinsetta Garage inside
There is no mistaking that Vinsetta was (is) a vintage garage, but with updates: automobile and racing memorabilia, old repair receipts as wallpaper, bathroom floors laid with pennies, glass from the old skylights made into clouds that hang over the pizza oven, on the walls of a private dining room and on the restroom doors, kitchen staff wear mechanics shirts.

If you’re a car guy living in or visiting the Detroit area, the Vinsetta Garage is a can’t-miss destination. They pay extra special attention to the classic American comfort food they dish up like coal-fired pies, burgers, and pasta with extra special attention. The idea is to serve food that the mechanics would have enjoyed after a shift at the garage.

Vinsetta Garage crew back in a days
Those hungry mechanics knew good food, so don’t be the fool who passes on the most popular dishes, their mouth-watering burgers, the famous mac & cheese or a coal-fired pizza.

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