Sonic Drive-In (also known as “Sonic”) is a tremendously popular place to eat. Today the restaurant is available in more than 40 of the 50 states. They’ve been around since 1953 and are known for their “roller-skating wait staff”. However, many of today’s Sonic locations no longer require the roller-skating part. If you love Sonic and you’ve always wanted to know a little more about them, check out my frequently asked questions.
1. Is Sonic Drive-In Fast Food?
Sonic is indeed considered fast food. Even though their food is made to order, it gets to you while you wait in your car. The food is delicious because it’s fresh and not pre-made. Just like most other burger places, you receive your food relatively quick.
The questions that remains: What is considered “fast”? I mean, 5 or 10 minutes is fast in my opinion, but how about rush hours? Things could take longer whenever a restaurant or drive-in is crowded. Furthermore, places like Panera Bread for example can also take a little longer at times. But quality is often worth the wait.
That being said, Sonic Drive-In is able to deliver your order quick and fresh, which is what fast food is all about.
2. Are Sonic Burgers Good?
Sonic burgers are not only delicious, but the restaurant makes a lot of different burgers to suit everyone’s taste. This includes regular hamburgers and cheeseburgers, double cheeseburgers, 1/4-pound cheeseburgers, 1/2-pound cheeseburgers, and even bacon cheeseburgers. They’re willing to put a variety of ingredients on their burgers. In other words, every burger is customized to your likes and dislikes.
The fact that 3 million customers order from Sonic each day shows how good their burgers are. Of course it’s all a matter of taste, and not everyone will agree with me. But if you look at the bigger picture, many people enjoy Sonic burgers.
3. Why Is Sonic Drive-In So Slow?
Compared to many other restaurants, Sonic is not really that slow. If you visit them and consider their service to be slow, it’s probably because everything they cook is made to order. Custom-made food always takes a little longer than food that has been sitting under heat lamps for a while.
From what I know it takes about 15 – 20 minutes for customers to receive their food at Sonic. Yes, I agree, some fast food chains are definitely faster. Sometimes it even takes longer than that, especially during rush hour. I understand why some people consider Sonic to be slow, especially when you compare them to the regular wait at McDonalds (which is about 10 minutes). However, in my opinion, waiting the extra 5 or 10 minutes isn’t really that big of a deal. Unless you’re in a hurry of course. Keep in mind that restaurants keep improving, like I explained in my frequently asked questions about Jack in the Box. Let’s just appreciate their service and hard work.
4. How Long Can I Sit at Sonic?
Sonic has no strict rules regarding the amount of time you’re allowed to sit in one of their stalls. On paper, people can sit there as long as they like, provided they’re eating and drinking Sonic food. The only problem that you may run into is if they’re a little busier than usual. They could need the stall for another customer. If you’re sitting in the stall but not eating or drinking anything, they could ask you to make room for another customer. However, I don’t know if this has ever happened to anyone.
5. Does Sonic Give Free Refills?
The only free refills Sonic gives are water refills. If you order any other type of drink, they’ll generally charge you around $0.50 or so for the refill. If you want a refill on a specialty drink or a shake, they’ll make you pay for a whole new one. This might be different depending on the manager of the franchise. As a general rule you have to pay for refills on anything that isn’t water.
6. Why Is Sonic Drive-In So Expensive?
While some people consider Sonic to be expensive, overall they’re not that much more expensive than the average burger place. You can get a hot dog for roughly $2, a cheeseburger for under $4, a six-piece wing plate for $4.50, and a soft drink starting at around $1.20. These are not unreasonable prices, even though some people may consider them higher than average. You also need to remember that Sonic cooks everything made to order, which always causes prices to go up a bit.
7. Does Sonic Drive-In Take Cash?
Sonic does indeed take cash, although they have debit/credit card machines installed in all of their customer stalls. This makes it even easier to pay for your food. That being said, you’re always allowed to pay with cash. Unless the restaurant has just opened, it should be easy for them to provide you with the right amount of change.
Be reminded that if you visit Sonic in the morning, chances are you’re one of their first customers. As a result, the restaurant could have limited amounts of cash. That’s why I always advise people to inquire about cash possibilities before actually ordering, which brings me to my next point.
8. Does Sonic Drive-In Accept 50- or 100-Dollar Bills?
Since most of Sonic’s customers end up paying for their meals with a debit or credit card, Sonic isn’t always able to provide change for a 50- or 100-dollar bill. If you’re planning to pay with a large bill, you should probably check with them first. That being said, if they have the right amount of change, paying with 50- or 100-dollar bills shouldn’t be a problem. Just ask them politely.
9. Do You Tip at Sonic?
This is up to you, but keep in mind that Sonic pays its employees minimum wage or higher. In addition, the debit and credit card machines they’ve installed don’t have the option to leave a tip. This makes doing so a bit difficult. Nevertheless, you’re always welcome to pay the tip in cash.
10. Can Sonic Employees Accept Tips?
Sonic employees can indeed accept tips, and they greatly appreciate the gesture. It’s pretty common to tip your wait staff, and Sonic is no different. If at all possible, people who patronize restaurants like these should always tip the wait staff. From my own experience I know that not every restaurant handles tips in the same way. In other words, things could be different at some locations.
11. Why Did So Many Sonic Locations Close?
There are numerous reasons why a lot of Sonic locations closed. According to the company, the number-one reason is the weather. With a drive-in, bad weather means fewer people will want to patronize these kinds of places. After all, who wants to visit a drive-in when it’s cold and snowy outside? This is also the reason why so many Sonic Drive-Ins are located in the southern part of the United States. Regardless of other possible reasons, uncomfortable weather usually keeps drive-in customers away.
Fun Fact: Did you know there are actual fast food socks (Tortilla, Burgers, Pizza etc)?
Sonic Drive-In serves fresh and tasty meals. Even though some people consider their service to be a little on the slow side, I personally still categorize Sonic as fast food. But I do get why opinions differ about this topic. In the end it’s all about enjoying that delicious burger without any hurry.
Be reminded that these answers are written from my own point of view. Things can change, and everyone has his or her own Sonic experience. I just hope my answers are of help. If you need more information, here’s a link to their website where they share their menu, locations and more details.
Let’s hope that Sonic Drive-In will continue to surprise us with their lovely menu and service. Probably not all of us prefer to eat in our vehicles, and I must say that for me it’s not the most romantic setting either, but sometimes it just makes sense to stay in your car. For example, a Wendy’s dine in restaurant offers more space and facilities, but restaurants can also be crowded and noisy. Having a small break in your own car with your favorite music has something to it as well.
Well, enjoy Sonic!