Following a flurry of recent expansion news, Sonic Drive-In announced another franchise development agreement for six new drive ins in Syracuse, New York, and Watertown, New York, in the next four years. These new commitments are an expansion of an agreement reached in 2013 for five new drive ins in the Rochester, New York, market by a franchise group led by local restaurateur Fran DeSimone. The group is enthusiastic about opportunities for the brand in the area, and they have more than doubled their commitment to the Sonic brand.

“The northern states are ripe with expansion opportunities for Sonic given the brand’s relatively small footprint in the area combined with high customer awareness and pent-up demand—a result of our popular and effective national advertising,” says Bob Franke, senior vice president of franchise sales and international development for Sonic. “In addition, we recently introduced an indoor dining prototype that is ideally suited for drive ins in colder climates. Each location will still have the iconic drive-in stalls that our guests know and love, but will also feature a drive thru and indoor dining room so they can come in out of the cold.”

Fran DeSimone and his team bring valuable experience in both quick-service and fast-casual restaurants. DeSimone’s experience includes leadership roles with the Panera Bread, Burger King, and Taco Bell brands. Through a separate business partnership, DeSimone also currently serves as the franchisee for a fast-casual brand in the Rochester market. DeSimone’s group is partnering with local investor David Taylor for this new agreement.

“Our first Rochester area drive in is under development, and we expect to open later this year, but our experience with Sonic has been so positive and the community reaction to Sonic so great that we decided to double our numbers and bring Sonic to Syracuse and Watertown,” says Fran DeSimone, president of the local Sonic franchise. “Upstate New York has been exposed to Sonic’s marketing and word-of-mouth for years, and is clamoring for the Sonic experience. We are thrilled to be the ones bringing it to such an enthusiastic and vocal community.” 

Denise Lee Yohn: QSR's Marketing Guru, Drive Thru, Growth, News, Sonic