Tag Archives: Sonic Drive In

All-American Burger Challenge

All-American Burger Challenge

Wednesday night, July 29, a group of some four dozen high school students and their adult chaperons/drivers gathered at Pathways Community Church to prepare for a very important assignment: to determine who has the best burgers: Sonic or In-N-Out.  It was a difficult and dirty (well, at least messy) job, but they were up to the task.

Preparations

Organizers Jenna Stovall and Mike Gilson had obviously done a lot of preparation for the activity.  They had developed detailed evaluation forms which included such elements as taste, presentation, bun, “greasiness,” and facilities.  They also had trivia questions for the kids to work on while waiting for their orders.  For the stop at Sonic, the organizers had contacted the auto service station next door and gotten permission to set up tables and chairs in the lot.  This turned out to be both a problem, because there was no light in the lot, and unnecessary, because by the time all the students had their orders the regular eating area had cleared out and there was enough room for most of them to sit.

In the Dark

It was obvious that the kids were having a lot of fun, and most of them were taking the activity seriously.  You could see how some of them were concentrating on their evaluation forms.  I had a chance to chat with some of them at Sonic to get their thoughts.  Heather told me, “Sonic’s good, but I don’t think it can beat In-N-Out.”  For Mikaila, it was the “amazing” tater tots that brought a smile to her face.  Jessica put it simply – “They taste good.”  An anonymous young man felt the burger had “the perfect amount of veggies.”  Not all was smooth sailing, however.  One boy’s hamburger “turned into a salad,” and another boy talked about his hamburger’s “squishy buns” – at least I assume it was his hamburger he was talking about.

The management at Sonic was very pleasant and helpful, even sending out free samples of drinks to keep folks going while waiting for their orders.  As always, the carhops were fast and efficient, although one young man did end up having a too-close encounter of the wall kind as he was returning to the restaurant to pick up another order.

All-American Burger Challenge

Part 1 – Sonic

Burger Challenge - Sonic

Evaluations and Trivia

Sonic Evaluations

Following the Sonic experience the entire crew packed up and headed down Magnolia to In-N-Out.  The group was very careful to clean up both the dining area and the lot where they had originally set up before leaving.  At In-N-Out my wide-angle lens died, so I was unable to get any group photos.  A more pressing problem was the late arrival of Mike Gilson, who happened to have the money for the activity.  Eventually he showed up and ordering began.  Here again I managed to talk to a few kids (at least those whose mouths weren’t full of food) to get their thoughts.  Amy told me “Sonic’s doing it for me, although the milkshakes here [In-N-Out] are better.”  Blake told me that “In-N-Out wins hands down on burgers, but it’s Sonic for drinks.”  His friend Ross agreed and added, “Sonic has it for atmosphere.”

All-American Burger Challenge

Part 2 – In-N-Out

In-N-Out

The night was not just for comparing.  One of the participants had never before had a burger!  Kristin admitted that she had always been more of a “chicken person,” although several of her friends had talked about taking her out to try the beef-and-bun combination.  So this night she finally got her introduction to the All-American Hamburger.

Kristin Meets Hamburger

The final results of the All-American Burger Challenge will be announced on Sunday, August 2.  I will post the results later in the day.  But until then, I am inviting all of my readers to vote in my totally unscientific Sonic vs In-N-Out Poll.

 

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Sonic Wait Update

Today when I went to Sonic for a late lunch it only took 20 minutes from the time I pulled in the line to the time I was giving my order.  Of course this was just before 2:00, so many people were at work and school.  But it does bode well for those of us who have had to deal with hour-long waits.  I still expect evening and weekend times to be long at least until the Vista location opens this summer.

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Sonic Video

Here is a quick link to a video from the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Sonic in Santee

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Sonic Update – Lines and Tips

Sonic Lines

The public has arrived, and they are hungry (and thirsty).  According to a news story, there were over 100 cars waiting for Sonic to open on Monday, some having started lining up as early as 6:00.  I stopped by this afternoon, andSonic Staging Area the wait was about 35 minutes to get in to order.  Not so bad, and after all, it is the only Sonic in San Diego County.

To avoid causing traffic problems on Mission Gorge Rd., Sonic has created a drive-in/drive-through “staging area” on Railroad Ave.  If you approach Sonic on Mission Gorge, you will be directed around to the staging area – and you’ll have to continue past the cars already in line, then do a 3-point turn (remember those from driver’s ed?) to get to your spot at the end.

Sonic Waiting Line

So much for the lines – now for the tip: If you are planning to go to Sonic, I would suggest you come in on Railroad Avenue from Buena Vista Avenue (you can get there from Cottonwood Avenue off Mission Gorge Road) – this way you avoid having toEnd of the Line drive down Railroad to the end of the line.

And, after waiting patiently, comes the moment you have been waiting for – when a smiling carhop rolls out to your car with your order.  In this case, two Route-44 limeades.

Sonic Carhop

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Sonic Opens in Santee

Sonic Drive-in

First, my apologies to anyone who tried to make it to the Grand Opening on Saturday – I was not aware at the time that it was a special VIP-only shindig.  However, being a VIP myself, I was able to make the party and will now share some of the fun we had.  Sorry, no food available here – or there until Monday 4/6.

The VIP-GO was a great success.  It was attended by members of the Santee City Council, Santee Chamber of Commerce, Aztec Athletic Boosters, and a few others by invitation.  Channels 8 and 10 were on hand to cover the event, as well as a photographer for the city and, of course, yours truly.  Mayor Randy Voepel gave a refreshingly short welcome to Sonic, comparing Santee to Mayberry (the iconic small town), and owner Max Gelwix thanked the city for all of its efforts to smooth the way for the building of the restaurant.  This was followed by the ceremonial cutting of the ribbon to mark the opening.

Sonic Ribbon Cutting

I will tell you this – there is nothing like a VIP opening with dozens of people milling around tables set up in what will be drive-in/drive-through space to put roller-skating car-hops to the test.  Before the official ceremony these agile young men and women were darting around with trays of sample drinks – ocean water and cherry limeade.  Then it got tricky.  After the ribbon cutting VIPs were able to order food from the Sonic Order Board – the problem came with delivery.  Normally the car-hops roll out to a car parked in one of the spaces, double-check the order, and then leave the food for the hungry diners.  Last night they had to search for the people who ordered, then wandered off to find a table to sit at.  There were a few mix-ups, and a couple of spilled drinks, but overall things went well.

Sonic will be open to the public starting at 10:00 am on Monday, so watch for a huge traffic jam along eastbound Mission Gorge Rd. that day, as well as in the left turn lane westbound.  They will have a shortened schedule the first week, then regular hours beginning the second week.  A second Sonic will be opening this summer in Vista, to be followed by at least a half dozen more.

Miss Santee, Sierra Billock, and Miss Santee Teen, Nicole Ehlke, enjoy samples of cherry limeade

Miss Santee & Miss Santee Teen

Miss Santee and Miss Santee Teen with Chamber of Commerce President, Rob McNelis

Miss Santee & Miss Santee Teen with Rob McNelis

Channels 8 and 10 interview owner Max Gelwix as Mayor Randy Voepel watches

News Crews interview Max Gelwix

Carhops deliver an order to a table of VIP guests

Carhops Deliver the Good(ie)s

Not even the camera crews could resist the Sonic experience

News Crews Go Sonic

Tables full of VIPs enjoy Sonic’s offerings

VIP Tables

Carhops in Action

Carhops in Action

Your new Santee Sonic

Santee Sonic

Channel 7 had a good piece on the Sonic Grand Opening

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Sonic Grand Opening

Attention all you Sonic devotees – their first San Diego County restaurant will be having its grand opening this Saturday.  I know my daughter will be one of many happy people there.  I’m looking forward to finding out what all the hullaballo is about, since I have never been to one before.  As I write this my daughter is sitting next to me gushing about all the good food Sonic has.  I will decide when I get to try some.

The big event is Saturday, with ribbon cutting at 5:30 pm.  The new Sonic is located at 10515 Mission Gorge Rd., just a bit west of North Magnolia Ave.  The easiest approach is from the west, since the restaurant is located on the south side of the road.  For more info, click on the links below.

Map

Sonic Drive Ins

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