Just across 16th Street Southwest from the YMCA, there was a flurry of activity Thursday morning as work crews put the finishing touches to Minot's newest restaurant. When the Sonic Drive-in opens this weekend, it will be North Dakota's first taste of the franchise.
On the scene was Abe Sakak, CEO and president of Hopitality Management and Integration, which for 20 years has owned and operated such community restaurants as Badlands Grill. His company has acquired the franchising rights to Sonic Drive-in in North Dakota, and the Minot location will be the first of what he hopes will be many across the state. The next planned will be in Fargo, which should be completed within the next 12 to 16 months.
Described as a "casual food" establishment, Sonic will not be your typical fast food burger joint. "The pointed difference," Sakak said, is "we're bringing the food to you."
Workmen put the final touches to Sonic Drive-in at 1601-35th Ave. SW on Thursday morning. With a modern spin on the carhop and malted milkshake aesthetic, the Minot location will be the state’s first for the restaurant chain.
Promising an experience, he explained the restaurant will feature 17 carports from which patrons can order. Switchboard operators inside will be able to keep track of who arrived first, ordered what, and when. Orders are then prepared and delivered to the vehicle by carhops on rollerskates, weather-permitting.
"If there's four feet of snow out they won't have skates," Sakak joked.
The location's 80 employees have been training throughout the week for the opening weekend, which on Saturday will have an invitational opening for friends and family, with the grand opening at 6 a.m. Sunday.
"We're excited about it," said Sakak. The restaurant will be open every day from 6 a.m. to midnight, offering in addition to burgers and fries items like tater tots, foot-long dogs, toasted sandwiches, desserts and all-day breakfast items. For patrons on the go, the restaurant will also have a double drive-thru for their convenience.
The biggest difference though, will be its beverages. Boasting over 398,000 different drink combinations, Sonic will have two daily happy hour periods, from 2 to 4 p.m. and from 8 p.m. to midnight, during which time all drinks will be half off. "That's where we get most of our drinkers," the owner explained.