Sonic Drive-In is ramping up its product pipeline with a new Culinary Innovation Center, a state-of-the-art test kitchen under construction in the brand’s Oklahoma City headquarters.

The new space, which should be completed in the coming months, includes a culinary playground to foster creativity, a replica of a Sonic kitchen, and room for small and large tastings and demonstrations.

“Our culinary staff has expanded and outgrown our current facilities, and this new center allows for a higher level of innovation,” says Patrick Lenow, vice president of public relations, in an email. “[It] will allow even greater collaboration among our culinary team and other support departments, such as training and operations.”

While most major quick-serve brands have test kitchen operations, Sonic’s Culinary Innovation Center functions as more than that with features that enable Sonic employees to perfect the execution of products.

“One of the most exciting parts of the facility is the video camera system that will allow our chefs to broadcast trainings, food demos, interviews and more from the different kitchens,” Lenow says.

Once the center is operational, the brand’s chefs will go to work on developing new dishes with a focus on chicken items and frozen products as well as Sonic’s staple drinks. From conception to hitting the drive in, new products take about one year to develop, Lenow says, and along the way, Sonic conducts trend research, surveys guests, and does online testing of concepts. Top of mind for product development is the guest’s ability to customize, he adds.

“Our new Culinary Innovation Center allows us to raise the bar on creative innovation and quality in the food space,” Lenow says. “Our culinary team has grown and a state-of-the-art center is essential to … enable Sonic to meet its goal of 1,000 new locations in 10 years.”

By Tamara Omazic


Drive Thru, Menu Innovations, News, Operations, Sonic