Restaurant franchise owner Kasey Suryan said Pacific Beach's Sonic will be the eighth in San Diego County and the third in the City of San Diego.
Under development for months, the almost-completed Sonic has captured the notice of countless passers-by, as well as drawing questions and concerns from locals. Some are worried about whether the new eatery will have enough parking onsite, and whether its access will be sufficient given its location near one of the beach community's busiest intersections just off Mission Bay Drive on Garnet.
Suryan said the site was chosen after a years-long search because of its high-profile location and its distance away from other Sonics. It also helped that they had a business partner in A-1 Self Storage, located immediately behind the new drive-thru '50s-style retro restaurant.
Suryan said his new Sonic will be open from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. seven days a week. He said it will have a drive-thru as well as 14 drive-in stalls served by carhops on roller skates. There will also be an indoor dining room. Employees will park offsite and there will be five dedicated parking spots onsite.
Not everyone is pleased, however, with the new Sonic's location, or how it was approved by the city. Brian Curry, chair of Pacific Beach Planning Group, said he made several inquiries with the city on behalf of local residents concerned about the potential Balboa Avenue traffic impact as a result of Sonic.
“No traffic study was ever made public, and as far as I know was not required by the City,” said Curry. “The new Sonic and A-1 self-storage facility were approved by the City without any public input. As the improvements were built to zoning 'by right,' the City did not require the project be brought before the PBPG.”
Curry added, “This is another unfortunate circumstance, similar to what happened at the new Trader Joe's shopping center, in which the City's Development Services Department will accommodate developers and not require public outreach and input on significant community construction projects. Note that the planning group has not reviewed, nor had any input, on new development on the north side of the 800 block of Garnet (old PB club/dance place) and on the waterfront next to the Shore Club (old crab place). Development Services appears to work for developers rather than the public.”
Suryan's doing everything possible to ensure a smooth transition for his new PB Sonic.
“We will have traffic control set up the first few weeks, two people I've identified just managing traffic in and out making sure everything's smooth and there are no delays on Garnet,” he said, adding, “We're also hoping to work with the Nite Owl's owners next door to utilize some of their parking during the first couple weeks.”
His new eatery's menu was characterized by Suryan as American fare — burgers, fries, tater tots, all-beef hot dogs, handmade onion rings and frozen treats.
How busy will the new Sonic be?
“We don't know,” said Suryan. “There's a lot of unknowns. It's really hard to know.”
Sonic is an American drive-in, fast-food restaurant chain based in Oklahoma City that was founded by Troy N. Smith Sr., a milkman, just after World War II.
Smith decided to work delivering bread because bread was not as heavy as milk. Soon afterwards, he purchased the Cottage Cafe, a little diner in Shawnee, Okla.
Before long, Smith sold Cottage Cafe and opened Troy's Pan Full of Chicken. In 1953, Smith and a business partner purchase a five-acre parcel of land that had a log house and a walk-up root beer stand named the Top Hat. The two men continued with the operation of the root beer stand and converted the log house into a steak restaurant.
After realizing that the stand was averaging $700 a week in the sale of root beer, hamburgers, and hot dogs, Smith decided to focus on the more-profitable root beer stand. He also bought out his business partner and changed the name to Sonic in 1959. The new name worked with their existing slogan, "Service with the Speed of Sound."