Owners break ground on first RI SONIC Drive-In

(Marcos Valentin, WPRI-TV)

SMITHFIELD, R.I. (WPRI) — “The sizzle is coming soon,” proclaim signs on a closed building near the Apple Valley Mall on Putnam Pike in Smithfield.

The owners of Rhode Island’s first SONIC Drive-In quick-service restaurant, along with representatives from the parent company — and a smiling shake mascot — put shovels into earth for a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday morning. Previously, the restaurant was expected to open in August, but the opening date is now slated for September.

Sharon Bowen, co-franchise owner with her husband, and in charge of communications for the location, said the opening has been two years in the making.

“SONIC has such a following with customers, that we have heard nothing but positive” reactions to the plan, Bowen said. One Rhode Island woman, she said, started a Facebook group to petition the company to bring a franchise here.

The chain has a big presence in the South, and is known for drive-in stalls (as opposed to a drive-through), similar to an A&W or Dairy Queen of yesteryear, but the Smithfield location will also have seating inside. The chain dates back to 1953, and an establishment known as the Top Hat Drive-In in Oklahoma.

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