I have not typed words on this blog in many months, but I am back today and there is no better occasion than a Sonic Drive-In opening in my local community for me to return.
I jokingly told a friend a few years ago that the Second Coming of Christ would take place before the Twin Cities of Lewis County gained a Sonic Drive-In. I now look like a fool, but that’s okay.
Sonic, an institution in places further east, only started making their presence known in the Pacific Northwest about a decade ago. On Monday, a brand-new one on a brand-new road in Chehalis opened to much fanfare and shouts of praise to God above (and a request for Jesus to delay said return so we can enjoy it for awhile).
Why is Sonic so popular? Make sure you nearly drown in a 44-ounce cherry limeade that you bought for half price between the hours of 2 and 4 p.m. and take multiple trips to the nearest restroom to rid yourself of all the liquid you imbibed in, then you will understand.
Sonic is an institution in places like Springfield, Missouri, where I called home off and on for four years. Where there were four in about a 5-mile radius of Springfield, there are four in a 100-mile radius here (Vancouver, Chehalis, Lacey, Tacoma). Now that Sonic has arrived in Chehalis, people have arrived in droves to see what it’s all about.
When I went there yesterday for the first time, there was a really tired guy directing traffic into two lanes. Pick the left to go to any one of about 20 stalls, or pick the right to go to the drive-thru. For some inane reason, most people opted to go to the right and wait for a long period of time — one friend told me he waited for 40 minutes — but I chose the left and promptly found a stall. I ordered a chili cheese coney dog and my food was delivered in five minutes. The Lincoln Navigator that entered the drive-thru behind me was about ten cars deep in line still in the drive-thru.
I cannot stress enough to USE THE STALLS. Sonic hired 120 people (more on this in a second) and most of them will not have anything to do if you opt for the drive-thru. USE THE STALLS.
The food tastes just like the Sonic Drive-Ins I remember in the Midwest. This is a good thing. The hot dogs are smaller than I remember them. This is not a good thing.
If you USE THE STALLS, people deliver your food to you on roller skates. People 75 and over will be transported to the days of yore when people respected each other, and we had presidential candidates that acted in the best interests of the people. For those my age, it’s all about efficiency — rolling takes less energy than walking.
Visit Sonic enough times and you’ll experiment with some gnarly drink combos. Want a Coca-Cola with a bit of vanilla, chocolate and cherry? They can do it. Want a Powerade slush? They can do it. Want a ton of ice in your cup? That comes by default.
The food is good, the drinks flow like water from the rock, and the ice cream products will fatten us all up sufficiently.
I see it as a coming of age for our community. The fact that a company that still only has a few locations in Washington compared to its reach elsewhere, and a franchisee chose Chehalis, says something about the way people see our region as econommically viable.
I have heard from people who frown on Sonic’s arrival, as we have had many local establishments offering similar fare for years. Yes, we have places like Harold’s and Dairy Dan and Dairy Bar and they will still have a good customer base. Locals love ’em and I count myself there. Sonic is just a good addition to it. Plus they hired ONE HUNDRED TWENTY PEOPLE and are another conduit through which cash can flow into our community. I support local establishments, and I also support local people who work at regionally and nationally-known chain establishments that make a presence locally.
Sonic is here, folks. Partake.
And remember, USE THE STALLS.