A new Sonic restaurant south of Miami will sell beer and wine soon, making it the first location of the quick-service, 3,559-unit chain to offer alcoholic beverages on its menu.
The drive-in restaurant in Homestead, Fla., wants to drive guest traffic and sales in the evening, said Drew Ritger, Sonic senior vice president of business analysis, development and purchasing. Homestead is 45 minutes south of Miami and a gateway city to Florida’s vacation-destination Keys region.
Oklahoma City, Ok.-based Sonic Corp. is known for drive-in restaurants with skating carhops. Alcohol will not be served to customers in vehicles parked in the drive-in stalls. Only customers sitting in a covered patio area can purchase beer or wine. The Homestead location has a patio area with seating for up to 40 customers, 10 big-screen TVs and a sand beach area.
“We want to increase evening traffic and take advantage of the evening weather in Florida,” Ritger said. “People in Florida have so many months to be outside. It’s part of the lifestyle.”
Evening sales at the Homestead Sonic begin to pick up at 8 p.m. or 9 p.m., Ritger said, while evening sales at units around the country begin earlier, at 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. The Sonic drive-thru is open 24 hours, but the patio closes at 1 a.m.
The Homestead City Council recently gave Sonic permission to serve alcohol at the new location, which just opened this month, but the restaurant has not officially begun serving the suds, Ritger said.
“Our business is phenomenal at the new site. Let’s just handle what we have and then we’ll come in and add the beer and wine later,” he said.
Ritger did not give prices for the menued beers and wines. The unit will eventually sell three draft beers and 25 bottled beers, as well as 10 wines, he said.
Sonic plans to open a second restaurant with beer and wine options in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. this summer. The non-traditional location is scheduled to open in August on Fort Lauderdale’s beach.
Beer and wine will only be offered in South Florida for now, Ritger said, and Sonic is not planning a nationwide roll-out. “We’re going to look at it as an experiment in a local market,” he said. “We want to see what it does for the business and [whether] this makes sense.”