"How come there are no Sonics here?" That's a common refrain you'll hear from folks who move from the Deep South to the Greater Baltimore region.
But two local entrepreneurs are making sure that Maryland is no longer deprived of the drive-in burger joint that enjoys a cult-like following of sorts.
Franchisees David Crocetti and Sean Martin will open at least nine Sonics over the next few years, including sites in Randallstown, Lansdowne, Ellicott City, Elkton, and Edgewater. They are also scouting locations in Columbia, Catonsville, and Westminster.
Its Randallstown location will open first, either in late spring or summer, Martin says. Next on the list will be Lansdowne, which will open in the fall, followed by Ellicott City.
Martin and Crocetti declined to say how much they are investing to open the new stores. However, franchisees can expect to spend anywhere between $700,000 to $3 million per store, according to Sonic Corp.'s Web site. Each store requires about an acre's worth of property.
The partners are now busy hiring the roughly 100 workers who will staff the Randallstown store. They chose the spot on Liberty Road because it is right off the Baltimore beltway and should attract good drive-by traffic.
For folks who can't wait to eat Sonic's chili-cheese hot dogs, limeade chillers and tater tots, the business partners have a message: Be patient. It can take nine months to negotiate a lease and work through the zoning and permit process, Crocetti says. So getting the nine stores throughout the Greater Baltimore area won't happen overnight.
Sonic customers order their food at a drive-in window and get their food from a "carhop" — who might even wear roller skates. The Oklahoma-based chain has been expanding northward in recent years as company officials realized that folks in colder states will still eat Sonic burgers in their cars.
Maryland is a good area to expand because of its high income level, population density and diversity, Martin says.
Source: Sean Martin and David Crocetti, Sonic
Writer: Julekha Dash