A Sonic Drive-In scheduled to open this year in Westfield will be the restaurant chain’s first Hamilton County location since 2005.
The opening date for Sonic at 188 E. Spring Mill Pointe Drive, east of a Meijer store that opened in May, is difficult to predict because of equipment-related supply-chain delays, said Mike Rigdon, new business development supervisor for Drive-In of Evansville.
The Evansville-based franchisee, which operates 13 Sonic sites, plans to follow the Westfield restaurant with two additional suburban locations in 2023.
Sonic, featuring burgers, hot dogs and “slush” frozen drinks on its menu, presently serves central Indiana customers at restaurants in Avon, Camby, Greenwood and Plainfield.
Rigdon said growth in Westfield, listed No. 2 among Indiana’s fastest-growing cities in 2019 U.S. Census Bureau data, makes the community an attractive place to build.
“With Grand Park (Sports Campus) and all the other development up there, we felt it would be a really good area for us,” Rigdon said.
The new 1,300-square-foot building will accommodate drive-thru and curbside drive-in service. The restaurant, which will be open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. most days, plans to hire 35 to 40 employees.
Sonic’s carhop service, a long-running custom at restaurants such as Speedway’s Mug-n-Bun and the Suds in Greenwood, is a nostalgic treat, Rigdon said.
“People like drive-ins, especially during the summer,” he said. “It’s a fun atmosphere.”
Hamilton County was home to a Sonic Drive-In, at 17863 Foundation Drive in Noblesville, until it closed in 2005 along with four Indianapolis locations, including a Castleton restaurant at 8145 Bash St.
In 2016, Sonic announced a goal of opening 10 locations in the Indianapolis metropolitan area. The Westfield restaurant will be the second to open since that announcement, joining a Plainfield location that opened in 2020.
Founded in Oklahoma in 1953, Sonic was acquired by Inspire Brands in 2018. Inspire’s portfolio of restaurant chains includes Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Jimmy John’s and Dunkin’.
More than 90% of Sonic’s more than 3,500 drive-ins in 46 states are owned by franchisees, the company said. Franchisees need to have $500,000 in liquid capital and more than $1 million in net worth to qualify to open one to two units. Opening a traditional Sonic takes a total investment ranging from $1.2 million to $3.5 million, excluding land costs, according to the company.
The Westfield restaurant will be built on 1.3 acres. In the lease agreement, Drive-In of Evansville was represented by Patrick Boyle of Midland Atlantic Properties and the landlord, Westfield L.P., was represented by Wayne Timberman.