Sonic Drive-In announced the expansion of two existing franchise agreements and the addition of two new franchise agreements for a total of 33 new drive-ins to the state of California over the next seven years. The new California drive-ins will be located in the regions of Los Angeles, Palm Springs, Central Valley, and Northern California including Sacramento and the Bay Area. Beyond this planned expansion, the Sonic development team is actively seeking additional franchisees in California.
The 33 drive-ins are planned for multiple markets across the state: 11 in Sacramento; 12 in the San Francisco Bay Area; three in west Los Angeles; five between Bakersfield and Stockton; and two in the Palm Springs area. All planned drive-ins should be serving customers by 2022, bringing more than 1,500 new jobs to the state over seven years. There are currently 68 open drive-ins operating in California, and this announcement brings the total of upcoming drive-ins to 101.
“As a franchise-centric brand with more than 60 years of heritage, Sonic is a smart choice for motivated entrepreneurs interested in building a business with an established, respected brand,” says John Budd, chief development and strategy officer for Sonic. “These new and existing partners in California represent some of the best in the business, with a great deal of restaurant and multiunit experience. As we continue to seek qualified partners for the Sonic brand and in the state, these franchisees will exemplify the kind of success that comes from bringing Sonic Drive-In to previously underserved markets.”
Pacific Drive-Ins, led by Max Gelwix and Kasey Suryan, an existing and successful franchise group with multiple drive-ins in California already, signed on for 14 additional locations, expanding their footprint in Los Angeles and Sacramento over the next few years. Recent grand openings in Riverside and San Diego, California, were instant hits, and the ongoing success of their 10 other drive-ins led them to expand their footprint in California.
Scott McMillan, a current Sonic franchisee with 20 years of experience with the brand, signed an agreement to bring five new drive-ins to the Central Valley region, including Bakersfield and Stockton, California, in the next five years. McMillan already operates 26 drive-ins in Bakersfield, Fresno, and Sacramento. As a tenured and respected franchisee within the organization, McMillan has served on the Sonic franchise advisory council and continues to play an integral role in brand leadership.
New franchisee Arthur D’Souza is planning two drive-ins over the next three years in the Palm Springs area, with the first location planned for Indio, California. D’Souza is an award winning franchisee in other systems and brings a strong connection to the Palm Springs market.
Charanjiv Dhaliwal, a new Sonic franchisee with franchise group Norcal Cajun Foods Inc., signed 12 new commitments in the North and East San Francisco Bay areas. Norcal Cajun Foods Inc. are experienced developers and restaurateurs for Popeyes, ARCO, Twin Peaks, and Black Bear Diner, who are looking to increase Sonic’s brand presence in the Northern California market.
“The expanding presence of the Sonic brand in California has been quite a success story in the past few years,” says Drew Ritger, senior vice president of development for Sonic. “The consumer demand—fueled by our national marketing campaign and the Two Guys commercials—is extremely strong in the state, and many franchise opportunities still exist for new and existing partners in Sacramento, the East Bay Area, west Lost Angeles, and the Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.”
Always a drive-in at heart, Sonic is ready to work with franchisees to find a building solution to match their needs and the needs of guests. Sonic is a franchise-centric organization with multiple long-term and legacy franchisees offering an unparalleled level of support at every stage of development. Sonic offers franchisees flexibility with multiple drive-in formats, including the traditional drive-in model with dining stalls and a drive-thru; conversions, renovating existing restaurant buildings to create unique drive-ins; the counter-service model, offering customizable footprints to fit a variety of spaces; and indoor dining formats that allow guests to experience Sonic in multiple ways—either in their cars, at the drive-thru, or seated at a table inside.