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Sonic Drive-In Opening in Uptown Pushed Back to November

By Adeshina Emmanuel | August 15, 2013 7:32am
 Sonic Drive-Ins feature carhop service, Coney dogs and Cherry Limeades.
Sonic Drive-Ins feature carhop service, Coney dogs and Cherry Limeades.
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UPTOWN — The office of Ald. James Cappleman (46th) had hoped Chicago's first Sonic Drive-In location would open this summer, but bureaucratic "red tape" has pushed the opening back to November at the earliest, according to the alderman's office.

The drive-in is planned at 1016 W. Wilson Ave., in a vacant lot west of a McDonald's. Cappleman aide Abby Sullivan had previously said the restaurant would open by summer and was seeking a building permit before breaking ground.

But Sonic said Wednesday that the company is now targeting November for the opening.

The city's permitting status website indicated that, as of Wednesday night, Sonic didn't have a building permit yet. Sonic declined to comment on the project's building permit status, and declined to comment on what's the holdup.

Cappleman's chief of staff Tressa Feher said: "My understanding is that it was red tape." She added that "they haven't opened a Sonic in the city before," and that that may have contributed to the delay, but that things were being worked through.

The Sonic groundbreaking is now slated for late summer to early fall.

Sonic Drive-Ins are typically built in suburban and rural locales. The Uptown Sonic will feature a moderately revised design with more sit-down dining and fewer drive-in stalls, according to Sonic.

The Oklahoma-based chain has about 3,500 restaurants countrywide. Sonic is known for carhop service and offerings such as quarter-pound Coney dogs, Tater Tots and Cherry Limeades.

The average store does about $1 million in annual sales, the company said.

The drive-in will occupy a corridor due for a major overhaul between the $203 million reconstruction planned for the Wilson Red Line station, the potential transformation of a vacant bank building into an entertainment venue and restaurant and the redesign of nearby North Broadway.

All those projects have been mentioned by officials as integral to boosting Uptown's entertainment district.

The Sonic location has also been mentioned as an important compliment to the district by Cappleman chief of staff Feher and Alyssa Berman, president and CEO of Uptown United, Uptown's economic development organization.