2013: A Year In Review

Nine stories that shook up the limited-service industry in the last year.

Despite a year filled with turmoil in Washington, the limited-service restaurant industry showed moderate growth and promise in 2013, thanks in part to creative new ideas and products, plus another good gain from fast-casual units.

With issues such as sequestration, a payroll tax increase, the government shutdown, and the Affordable Care Act hanging over the industry, it’s perhaps not surprising that gains have only been nominal, despite employment increases and an improving economy.

Sonic Rings in the Holidays with Mint Desserts

This season, Sonic Drive-In will help guests get in the holiday spirit with two new minty treats: the Vanilla Holiday Mint Shake and Chocolate Holiday Mint Molten Cake Sundae. Made with Sonic’s Real Ice Cream, these two seasonal desserts—along with the return of the Chocolate Holiday Mint Shake from 2012—offer customers a spirited way to experience the sweetness they have come to expect from the drive-in during busy holiday times.

Sonic Serves Up New Natural-Cut Fries

Sonic Drive-In announced the launch of its new Natural-Cut Fries. Made from whole russet potatoes, the new natural-cut, ‘skin-on’ fry offers guests a higher quality fry with a crispy crunch.

Sonic guests can now order the new Natural-Cut Fries at all participating Sonic Drive-In locations nationwide. Available as part of a combo or on their own, the new Natural-Cut Fries seek to challenge Sonic’s signature Tots for most popular side at the drive in.

Sonic Names New Chief Development & Strategy Officer

Sonic Drive-In, the nation’s largest chain of drive-in restaurants, announced the hiring of John Budd in the newly created role of chief development and strategy officer. In this role, Budd will oversee franchise sales, real estate, and construction—both domestically and internationally. Additionally, in conjunction with the chief executive officer, Budd will lead and assist in further development of key strategic initiatives for the company. He will report directly to Clifford Hudson, chairman, chief executive officer, and president of Sonic Corp.

Sonic Turns to Micros as POS, Back Office Solutions Provider

MICROS Systems, a provider of information technology solutions for the hospitality and retail industries, announced that SONIC, the nation's largest chain of drive-in restaurants with more than 3,500 locations, has selected MICROS as its strategic enterprise solution partner. 

Included in the solution is MICROS’ point-of-sale system for drive-in transactions, as well as MICROS’ enterprise solution, including Enterprise Management, Enterprise Inventory, and Labor, Business Intelligence, and Loss Prevention systems for above drive-in operations.

Rain or Shine, Sonic is Set to Move to Seattle

Rain or shine, Seattle-area residents will soon have a new dining option to brighten their days. SONIC Drive-In, one of the nation’s largest chains of drive-in restaurants, announced plans to open 14 new drive-ins in the greater Seattle market with a new franchise partner, Cascade Development Group. It is anticipated that the first drive-in will open fall of 2014 and the balance by 2018, joining the five existing SONIC locations in the Seattle market.


Sonic Boosts Breakfast with New Egg White Option

The most important meal of the day just got a lot more interesting, as SONIC Drive-In announced two exciting changes to its breakfast menu. Guests can substitute fluffy egg whites in any breakfast menu offering with eggs, including a wide variety of Breakfast Burritos and the ever-popular Breakfast Toaster Sandwiches. And now, they can pair their favorite breakfast with a cup of SONIC’s Red Button Roast coffee, made with 100 percent Arabica beans and customized with one of five new flavors.