Sonic Drive-In is navigating the coronavirus pandemic in a way few other restaurants can because, in a sense, it was built for social distancing.
Sonic is the largest drive-in restaurant chain, with more than 3,500 locations across the United States. Having diners pull up and get their food from carhops, rather than waiting inside or dining inside a restaurant, is suddenly more relevant than ever.
“I don’t think that there’s any doubt that our physical format absolutely was in line with exactly how we are living during this pandemic time period,” Sonic President Claudia San Pedro says on the latest edition of Ad Age’s “Marketer’s Brief” podcast.
In line with other chains, Sonic has seen visits during breakfast and later at night decline during the pandemic. But its lunch, afternoon and dinner business has seen big increases in both traffic and order size, San Pedro says, as people visit for comfort foods such as ice cream and hamburgers.