🠈  Sonic Drive-In  🠊

Sonic Drive-In

Sonic Drive-In is a chain of drive in restaurants with over 3500 restaurants. The company was started by Troy N. Smith Sr. (1922-2009) and friends as the Top Hat in Shawnee, Oklahoma. The first restaurants did not have a standardized menu. Mr. Smith discovered that sales of root beer, burgers and hotdogs outpaced the sale of steak; so he concentrated on those items.

The company organized its parking lot and added speakers to make ordering food easier. The food would be delivered by carhops.

The company began franchising in 1958. On learning that the name Top Hat was trademarked, the company changed its name to Sonic.

The company had a policy of encouraging managers to become franchise owners. This led to rapid growth in the 1970s; however the franchise licenses became irregular and complex.

In 1983, C. Stephen Lynn became the corporate president. Lynn sought to unify the franchise contracts. In 1986 Lynn worked with venture capitalists to created a corporate buyout of the company. After reorganization, Sonic held an IPO in 1991. They traded on the NASDAQ with the symbol SONC.

The chain was taken off the market in 2018 by Roark Capital. Roark included Sonic in a subsidiary called Inspire Brands which includes Arby's, Buffalo Wild Wings, and Rusty Taco and others.3

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  1. Funding Universe - Sonic (Drawn 12/22/2017)
  2. Wikipedia - Sonic Drive-In (Drawn 12/22/2017)
  3. Pitchbook - Roark Acquires Sonic (Drawn 10/28/2019)

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