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April 19, 2014

Sonic plans expansion

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma-based Sonic Corp. plans to open 1,000 new drive-in restaurants nationwide over the next 10 years, expanding the chain by about 30 percent, the company said.

“It can be a matter of pride in a lot of small towns when you get your first Sonic, so we still have a lot of towns around the state to grow,” said John Budd, Sonic’s chief development and strategy officer.

Sonic now has about 3,500 drive-ins in 44 states, with hopes to expand into all 50 states, Budd said.

Budd told The Oklahoman that the company’s core market has always been Oklahoma and Texas, but said Sonic is making adjustments to the design of its restaurants to suit other climates. In colder areas, for example, Sonic has added dining rooms in addition to its typical patio seating.

“The core of the brand is as a drive-in, and we expect it will remain that way,” Budd said.

The company hopes to add 40 to 50 new locations in the next year, 60 to 70 locations in the following year and 80 to 90 in the third year.

“Eventually, we hope to be in the triple digits every year,” Budd said.

Sonic said it expected total employment to grow from about 150,000 workers system-wide to 200,000 in the next 10 years, though most of the growth will be at new locations and not Sonic’s headquarters in Oklahoma City, he said.

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