PALMETTO -- Most businesses celebrate an anniversary with cake and punch.
Not Slick's Garage in Palmetto.
For the past three years, Slick's Garage, named after its owner who only goes by his longtime nickname, has been a destination for car lovers and enthusiasts in the Manatee area. And to celebrate the shop's anniversary, Slick is inviting the public for an evening of live music, food and a close look at some of the most attractive cars in Florida.
The third anniversary party, which ties in with the business' First Friday event, is set for 5-9 p.m., with an award ceremony for the car show scheduled for 8:30 p.m.
Since its opening, the repair and custom body shop at 923 Fifth Street W. has hosted car shows on the first Friday of each month, attracting classic and custom car owners and fans from as far as Georgia. The event has also pumped money back into the community with the use of local food vendors, as well as raising funds for local charities.
All expenses are being paid by Slick's Garage.
Slick, who earned the nickname for his ability to fix cars and his slick hair style, decided to open his shop in Palmetto to give back to the city in which he resides.
"If you want to change something in the community, it starts with you," he said.
The shop held its first car show in Palmetto in February 2010.
Past shows have included water slides and vintage Hot Wheel tracks for kids and themed car shows. This past December, the shop raised money and collected toys for the Toys For Tots Foundation. The business also helped raise thousands of dollars for the North River Fire Department.
"We have a lot of car lovers who come to our car show because they like the historic feel," said Jane Hunter, co-owner of the shop and Slick's wife. "Our car show is a little different."
"It's more than a car show," Slick said.
Slick said the shows are promoting the city and bringing needed exposure to the area. His shop has been featured on the Discovery Channel's "Monster Garage" and TUFF TV's "Tail Fins and Chrome," and Slick has provided classic cars for Hollywood films like "There Will be Blood" and "Tree of Life."
"Setting up here, we put our money where our mouth is," Slick said.
The size of Slick's car shows have nearly doubled since 2010 and the big-hearted mechanic would like to expand the location going forward. Slick submitted a permit request to use all of 10th Avenue West between Fifth and Fourth streets for the anniversary show, but it was rejected by the city.
"I don't know how I can grow without help," he said.
Slick was instead allowed to use a parking lot directly across the street from his shop.
"I think it's a wonderful event, but I can't punish other businesses," said Palmetto Mayor Shirley Bryant. "We cannot make other business suffer, and its not the business complaining but the public about access to those businesses."
The garage is making plans to start an after-school program for kids and a how-to class for women.
"We deliberately want to put Palmetto on the map," Hunter said.
Nick Williams, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411 ext. 7049. Twitter:@_1NickWilliams.