Chefs Look to Forklifts for Culinary Inspiration

Forklift maintenanceWhat do forklifts and fine dining have in common? More than you might think!

A chef in Tupelo, Mississippi, is currently planning a new fine dining restaurant called Forklift which will be located in the towns busy central business district.

Chef David Leathers is one of the most well-known chefs in the New South. Now he is taking his culinary expertise to this exciting new concept that will feature post-industrial techniques in both its design and culinary execution.

Forklift Design Elements

The seating area of the exclusive, high-end restaurant will feature stressed wooden beams and other reclaimed woods, as well as polished metals. An artist’s rendering of the interior shows the legs of the tables and chairs resembling the type of tapered forks that are use on lift trucks.

And this industrial theme will be extended to the kitchen as well, where the chef will design his menu around dishes that are prepared in cast iron skillets. There also will be a special room made completely of brick that will be climate controlled so the chef can cure his own meats.

Revamp of an Earlier Design

Leathers’ design for Forklift is actually the the second version of the restaurant concept. The project originally was to be called The  Skillet and was to be located on the first floor of an abandoned apartment building.

But when the city slated the building for demolition, Leathers knew he had the opportunity to go back to the drawing board. That’s when he decided to use many of the same decor and design elements, but apply them to an even more industrialized version of his vision.

Forklifts as Restaurant Concepts

The new restaurant, which is scheduled to begin construction in late November and open in the spring, isn’t the first to use forklifts as an inspiration.

There’s currently a Forklift Restaurant that is part of the famous ski area in Snowbird, Utah, just outside of Salt Lake City.

There’s also a restaurant called Forklift & Palate that is part of a new 135-room Warehouse Hotel located in the Spooky Nook Sports center in Manheim, Pennsylvania.

Like the plans for the Tupelo restaurant, Forklift & Palate features contemporary industrial design, including walls made of pallets and wooden cable reels used as tables.

‘Forklift Cafe’ Still Going Strong

Then there’s the Forklift Cafe, located in Greece, New York, which is still going strong after more than three years after being opened in the abandoned guard shack at the old Kodak warehouse.

Sisters Dorothy Horn and Karen Fournelle opened the small, 20-seat cafe in the wake of Kodak filing for bankruptcy and the massive warehouse’s closing in 2012. Today, the pair serve breakfast and lunch daily for regulars and newcomers alike.

Last year, the pair even won an award from the local chamber of commerce for best creative use of an existing building.


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