Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Sonic Ground-Breaking Ceremony Signifies "It's Really Happening"

After an initial meeting with community members in the summer of 2011, non-stop rumors, and months of red tape, it's "game on" for Sonic.  Today at 1pm, there was a ceremonial ground-breaking at the future site of the first Sonic Drive-In in Chicago.

You may have noticed the green construction fence around the lot on the northeast corner of Kenmore and Wilson.  Bulldozers have already made short work of the wrought iron fence, asphalt, and light poles that were in the lot.  Nothing else has been there since the early 1980s.  Even less is there today.

But all that's about to change.  Within three months, there'll be a Sonic drive-in there.

Promptly at 1pm, ceremonial shovels were distributed, Sonic-branded hard hats went on, and a few clumps of dirt were displaced.  Ald. Cappleman and Seth Wolken, Vice President of Sonic franchisee Boom Enterprises, made brief remarks.  Also on hand were Mark Kinnare of Boom Enterprises, Alyssa Berman-Cutler of Uptown United, Keith McCormick of Business Partners, and Abby Sullivan of the 46th Ward service office, as well as about 30 interested neighbors.  Jim Williams of Channel 2/CBS showed up with a cameraman and spent time doing interviews.

According to a press release from Sonic, the store will be under construction for approximately three months with plans to open in the first quarter of 2014.

The press release continues:  "The new Chicago drive-in will feature a dining room with such amenities as a fireplace, free Wi-Fi, an outside covered patio, a double drive thru and nine stalls for curbside service from SONIC’s famous skating Carhops. Once open, the restaurant expects to hire between 75 and 100 employees."  You can read more details about Sonic's first "urban design" on UU's post from last December.

The CBS/2 report ran during the 5pm newscast.  The link to the story is here, and the video is below.

Thank you to Truman Square Neighbors for providing photos of today's event.


  1. This suggested impact of this opening is comical! To compare Sonic to Mia on Bryn Mawr?!?!? To connect Starbucks to Sonic as if they overlap demographically?!?!. I've been in Uptown since '89 and this is simply replacing the Burger King that was at Wilson-Sheridan. What's too bad is the negative effect it could have on Uptown Pizza and BBQ ("the Greeks"), a small local business across the street.

  2. What's comical is the response from some people in UU about the Sonic going in...from those complaining that trash will blow around (uh, take a good look around Uptown right now), to people complaining about fast food chains (what do we have these days? McDonald's, KFC, Subway, and Jimmy John's?), people complaining about sidewalk cuts for driveways and about car traffic (what?!?), and now, apparently, those who think the quality of food isn't like Mia and that it will drive Uptown Pizza and BBQ out of business.

    Folks, Sonic has the same sort of cult-ish following as Chik-Fil-A. Some people from Uptown will certainly patronize Sonic after it opens, but if you have a taste for pizza, you aren't going to Sonic to begin with. Yes, it will bring people here from outside of Uptown, and if those visitors aren't put off by running into one of our vocal naysaying complainers, they just might discover other restaurants and businesses they may come back for. So you don't like fast food--DON'T GO THERE. So you are afraid of car traffic--lock yourself in your home and don't go out. So you don't want Uptown Pizza and BBQ to close--go get a friggin' pizza from them. So you don't want trash blowing around--talk with the manager or help clean up your own neighborhood yourself instead of blowing more hot air.

    I recall when Magnolia Café opened years ago--there was a huge to-do of a red herring fit tossed by the Shilleristas at the time, mostly complaining that it was "too expensive" for welfare mamas and gangbangers. People who Magnolia didn't appeal to for whatever reason didn't go there...and people who it DID appeal to did. It's still there. Popeye's Chicken and several hair-braiding-and-nail emporiums didn't go out of business because of Magnolia. And no one will go out of business because of Sonic. And Uptown won't become a trashed-out, car-dodging, gang-and-fast-food-restaurant-infested neighborhood because of Sonic, either. So stop being ridiculous...this is another incremental step to making Uptown a safer and more appealing neighborhood for everyone (except the gangbangers and americanlt's "vagrants").