Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Take that weak Tot action outta here


Limeades. Cream Slushes. Java Chillers. The drinks sound a bit unfamiliar to a lifelong New Englander like me who grew up in the land of frappes, Fribbles and Awful Awfuls. But they’ll be sure to put a smile on the faces of Sonic aficionados in Massachusetts who have been waiting patiently for the day when the Oklahoma City-based chain finally opens its first shop here.

Well, Sonic fans, it’s almost time to rev up your engines and head to Route 1 in Peabody. Mark your calendars: Local franchisee Gina Monastiero told me today that her long-awaited Sonic drive-in restaurant will open for business at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 26. After opening day, Monastiero says she plans to keep the restaurant open from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m., seven days a week, staffed with at least 120 full- and part-timers.

Monastiero and her husband Gregg have been knocking at Sonic’s doors for several years, looking to sign a franchise deal. But the company only recently decided to expand into New England.

Some of us don’t know what a Sonic burger tastes like. But we’re certainly familiar with the brand, thanks to all those quirky cable TV ads that Sonic runs in nationwide campaigns.

True to the Sonic format, the roughly 1,700-square-foot shop in Peabody has no indoor seating (but it does have a big kitchen). Outside, Monastiero says there are 21 “stalls” where people can order food from their parked cars (and be served by waitstaff on roller skates) as well as outdoor seating for nearly 50 people and, of course, a drive-through window. Monastiero says she’s not particularly worried about the notorious New England winters; she notes that Sonics have thrived in other states with chilly winters.

Monastiero says the couple has ambitious expansion plans. She hopes to open three more restaurants in Greater Boston next year (next up: Wilmington) and eventually open at least 20 in the region during the next five years or so. In Massachusetts, Sonic is a few steps behind two gourmet burger chains that have expanded in the state in recent years, Red Robin and Five Guys. However, judging from the pent-up demand for Sonic restaurants, it shouldn’t be too hard for the Monastieros to help Sonic catch up with them.

I don't think I have been this excited since I found out they showed gratuitous boobies in the movie Commando back in the 80's. The thought of eating my first Sonic burger makes me immediately think about my first glimpse of breast on a tv. I am giddy with anticipation.

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