The Rise of SONIC: A Drive-In Story

S. F. Mori
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There are SONIC restaurants throughout much of the United States. There are several in and around the Salt Lake Valley in Utah.

The first SONIC opened in 1953 with the name Top Hat Drive-In. It was originally a root beer stand where people would walk up and order hamburgers, hot dogs, and soda. They now have over 3,500 locations in the United States.

Troy N. Smith, Sr. returned to his hometown of Seminole, Oklahoma, after World War II. He was employed as a milkman but later changed to delivering bread which did not weigh as much. He purchased a small diner before selling it and opening a fast-food service called Troy's Pan Full of Chicken.
He joined a business partner to purchase a parcel of land with a log house and a root beer stand named the Top Hat. They converted the log house into a steak restaurant. He focused on the root beer stand which was more profitable. Then he bought out his business partner.

SONIC started to use speakers where the cars parked. They are known for having carhops on roller skates to deliver the food.

The owners of SONIC now is Inspire Brands, which is the parent company of Arby's, Dunkin' Donuts, and Buffalo Wild Wings.


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I am a retired President/CEO of civil rights organizations. I have been a Mayor and California State Assemblyman as well as a College Instructor of Economics. I have also been an entrepreneur and international business consultant. I will be sharing articles mostly about life, politics, racism, travel, health, and relationships.

Salt Lake City, UT

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