Favorite

Get out of that car 

EAT IN: At new Sonic.
  • EAT IN: At new Sonic.
The Sonic fast-food restaurant scheduled to open May 12 on Cantrell Road in Little Rock is the first of its kind in Arkansas — and only the third of its kind in the nation — to forego the franchise’s signature drive-in feature and invite diners to eat inside. Situated on a busy retail strip in the Riverdale neighborhood, the location originally was slated for a traditional Sonic. However, both the Little Rock Planning Commission and Board of Directors in 2003 denied the zoning variance required to allow a drive-in after neighbors (including Max Brantley, editor of the Arkansas Times) raised objections about light and noise from multiple loudspeakers. How significant is this departure? Sonic’s corporate tagline is “America’s Drive-In.” (You’ll still be able to pick up an order at a drive-by window.) But the dining experience at the new Little Rock establishment will still be familiar to regular Sonic customers, promises Chris McKeever, the marketing manager in the corporation’s Oklahoma City headquarters. Instead of sitting in a car and ordering food over the intercom, diners will go inside and pick up a phone at a table to place an order. Servers will bring the food to the table, just as they would to a car at a more typical Sonic. “You get the same kind of car hop experience that way,” McKeever said. “The food is no different, it’s the same menu.” This eat-in model is already being used at one location in Phoenix, and at another next door to the national office in Oklahoma City. It is more practical for urban areas, where viable properties are smaller and fewer people have cars. Sonic may also want to build eat-in restaurants in cities with colder climates. “We would love to go into those Northern markets,” McKeever said. “That is something we are looking at.” However, it may take some time for Arkansans to get used to the new concept, because in many small towns around the state, the Sonic drive-in is a hub of social activity. High school students congregate at many of them, driving laps around the restaurant and decreeing a particular side of the parking lot the “cool” place to pull in. At least one Little Rock resident was skeptical of the eat-in Sonic. “The attraction to Sonic has always been the style of service,” said Martin Bynum, who cruised Sonic while growing up in Pine Bluff. “It was cool and different to be served in your car like that. Changing that almost changes the complete identity of the restaurant. You can get a hamburger anywhere, so having to go inside to eat goes against the whole reason of going to a Sonic in my opinion.” McKeever said, however, that the company has been pleased with its two existing eat-in restaurants.
Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Gunfire reported at downtown hotel

    Guests at the Marriott Hotel downtown reported hearing multiple gunshots about 9:30 p.m. Saturday night, but, at last report on KTHV, police had found no evidence that anyone was hurt.
    • Feb 19, 2017
  • Trump ventures into fake news as he decries it

    President Donald Trump continued his attack on the media at a rally in Florida Saturday, but his own reporting of facts continued to be fractured, with reference to a non-existent incident in Sweden.
    • Feb 19, 2017
  • More objections to the bathroom bill from Buffalo River businessman

    A tourism operator in the district of a senator who's sponsored a "bathroom bill" to discourage transgender use of public facilities has joined those objecting to the legislation as damaging to business.
    • Feb 19, 2017
  • More »

More by Warwick Sabin

  • Helena's disappearing buildings

    Preservationists hope to slow demolitions.
    • Mar 22, 2007
  • Trailers headed to Dumas

    Gov. Mike Beebe issued the following statement earlier today: Although this decision by FEMA to deny emergency funds to Desha County defies common sense, Arkansas will take care of its own people.
    • Mar 9, 2007
  • Youth Ranch robbed, vandalized

    According to a press release we just received: The Donald W. Reynolds Campus of the Arkansas Sheriff’s Youth Ranches (The Ranch) located near Fort Smith was vandalized overnight Thursday.  Items stolen during the break-in included all of the children’s saddles, food, tools and supplies from The Ranch’s carpentry shop and all equipment from its auto shop.  An investigation is underway with the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office.
    • Mar 9, 2007
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Kanis development decried

    Fletcher Hollow wrong place for density, neighbors tell LR planners.
    • Oct 8, 2015
  • Eligible voters removed from rolls

    Arkansas Times reporters contacted election officials around the state to see how they had handled flawed felon data from the secretary of state. Responses varied dramatically.
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • Real Republicans don't do pre-K

    Also, drifting away from trump, Hudson's downfall at ASU and more.
    • Aug 11, 2016

Most Shared

  • "Nasty Woman" at HSU: 32 artists celebrate Women's History Month

    A photograph of a woman doing a headstand so you can see her red underpants. A sculpture by Robyn Horn titled "Approaching Collapse." Those and other works that assistant professor of photography Margo Duvall says "celebrates the female voice in art" for Women's History Month go on exhibit March 1 in the gallery in the Russell Fine Arts Building.
  • Home again

    The plan, formulated months ago, was this: Ellen and I were going to go to Washington for inauguration festivities, then fly out the morning after the balls for Panama City and a long planned cruise to begin with a Panama Canal passage.
  • Who needs courts?

    Not since the John Birch Society's "Impeach Earl Warren" billboards littered Southern roadsides after the Supreme Court's school-integration decision in 1954 has the American judicial system been under such siege, but who would have thought the trifling Arkansas legislature would lead the charge?
  • Bungling

    If the late, great Donald Westlake had written spy thrillers instead of crime capers, they'd read a lot like the opening weeks of the Trump administration.
  • UPDATE: Campus carry bill amended by Senate to require training

    The Senate this morning added an amendment to Rep. Charlie Collins campus carry bill that incorporates the effort denied in committee yesterday to require a 16-hour additional training period before university staff members with concealed carry permits may take the weapons on campus.

Latest in Arkansas Reporter

Visit Arkansas

New Crystal Bridges exhibit explores Mexican-American border

New Crystal Bridges exhibit explores Mexican-American border

Border Cantos is a timely, new and free exhibit now on view at Crystal Bridges.

Event Calendar

« »

February

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28  

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation