The days of seeing a Sonic commercial on TV and screaming, “We don’t have a Sonic around here!” are almost over. Finally, Long Islanders will soon be able to indulge in their cravings and lose their Sonic virginity to the new location opening in North Babylon. Opening spring 2011, Sonic gives customers the experience of being in the 1950s, with drive-in service and roller skating carhops.
Long a myth among fast-food fanatics living on LI, few actually know what visiting a Sonic entails. It starts when you drive into a stall and begin your experience by pressing the red button on the menu. All food is made-to-order, anyway you want it. A carhop—some skating on rollerblades—serves your order right in your car. The carhop even checks backs with your party, much like a waiter would. Don’t want to chance spilling well-salted tater tots on your car seats? The patio might be right up your alley.
Sonic sets itself apart from other fast food restaurants. They have their entire menu, from burgers to breakfast burritos, available all day long. The chain mimics another Island institution—diners—in this way, save for the 24-hour open doors. But one of Sonic’s defining traits is its Happy Hour, available for two hours beginning at 2 p.m., to make their infamous beverage selection even more impossible to resist.
Sonic offers the classic burger and fries, as well as choices other fast food joints don’t, like grilled cheese and corn dogs. Diversity? How about 168,894 drink combinations.
Troy Smith started what would become Sonic in the 1950s in Oklahoma, when drive-in restaurants and skating carhops were most popular. Smith had a dream of owning his own steakhouse, and planned to achieve that dream through a root beer stand. Plans changed, however, and the root beer stand would later become America’s drive-in restaurant.
People want their fast food, well… fast. This caused many drive-in restaurants to close. However, Sonic was able to stay ahead by keeping the traditional drive-in and adding a drive-thru portion to the restaurant. Today, it is the largest chain of drive-in restaurants, with more than 3,500 restaurants in 44 states.
By Siobhan Cassidy