Sonic Drive-In could be coming to two SLO County cities

Sonic Drive-in has 3,500 locations nationwide but none in San Luis Obispo County — yet.
Sonic Drive-in has 3,500 locations nationwide but none in San Luis Obispo County — yet. The Associated Press

Sonic Drive-In may be coming to San Luis Obispo County if submitted plans to open restaurants in Paso Robles and Morro Bay move forward.

Sonic Drive-In serves burgers, hot dogs, breakfast items, tater tots, shakes and a wide selection of drinks, among other items. The restaurant offers personal carhop service, with the carhops often wearing roller skates. Headquartered in Oklahoma City, Sonic has more than 3,500 locations nationwide.

The proposed location for the Morro Bay Sonic Drive-In is 1840 Main St. at the intersection of Highway 41 and Main Street across from the Chevron station. A Planning Commission hearing was held in May, and the hearing was continued, said Cindy Jacinth, associate planner for the city of Morro Bay.

She said that the ball is now in the applicant’s court, and they need to submit additional information on their proposal before the project can be considered by the Planning Commission.

Meanwhile, in Paso Robles, Golden Hills Plaza at the corner of Highway 46 East and Golden Hill Road is the proposed location for a North County Sonic Drive-In.

Plans for the Paso Robles location are being reviewed by the planning division and haven’t been approved yet, said Susan DeCarli, city planner for the city of Paso Robles.

Details such as elevation and layout still need to be worked out, which DeCarli said she hopes can be resolved in the next couple of weeks.

At that point, the application would be taken to the development review committee for approval. From there, the applicant would apply for building permits and go through the building permit plan check process, DeCarli said.

In an email to The Tribune on Thursday, Drew Ritger, senior vice president of development for the national headquarters of Sonic Drive-In, declined to discuss plans to open restaurants in San Luis Obispo County.

“At this time, Sonic does not have confirmed plans to open new drive-ins in Paso Robles and Morro Bay,” Ritger wrote.

“However, we are constantly evaluating opportunities to expand in new markets to meet customer demand, and our goal is to have a Sonic convenient to all customers. We think San Luis Obispo County would make a great market for Sonic.”

» Related: Here are the best burgers in San Luis Obispo County

The Sonic Drive-In chain is primarily composed of franchises; the brand currently sits at about 90 percent franchisee-owned, moving toward 95 percent in the next couple years, Ritger wrote.

The typical investment for a new drive-in, excluding land, ranges from $1.02 million to $1.77 million, according to Ritger. Average gross sales by store were about $1.24 million for fiscal 2015, according to the company’s website.

A typical Sonic Drive-In staffs about 50 to 100 people, a mix of full- and part-time employees.

In 1953, the prototype of the first Sonic Drive-In opened in Shawnee, Oklahoma, according to the company’s website.

Which now-defunct burger joints do longtime San Luis Obispo residents miss the most? Here's a look at 4 of the most-loved, long-gone hamburger restaurants in the city of SLO. Is your favorite former burger joint one of them?

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