Saint Paul: Home of the First Minnesota Sonic Drive-In

Minnesota’s first Sonic Drive-In restaurant, located on Suburban Avenue in St. Paul, has been pulling in thousands of cars a day for the past two weeks into lines that are sometimes hours long.  Some people have traveled from as far away as Fargo, North Dakota, to have a bite.  On Sunday afternoon, the lines at Sonic were somewhat shorter - only about 25 to 35 minutes - but the enthusiasm is still going strong.

Perhaps it has been all the commercials that have been airing for years in Minnesota.   I must admit, after seeing some of the commercials myself, I wondered why advertisers would taunt Minnesotan’s with such tempting food if there wasn’t a Sonic located any closer than Iowa City, Iowa.  Happy Hours with half-priced soft drinks and all types of yummy looking food seemed unattainable.

Now the opening of this Sonic in Saint Paul has triggered an incredible response.  On Sonic's first morning, 19 cars were waiting when the store opened at 6 a.m.  Police officers are on site to help keep traffic moving in the areas surrounding the restaurant.  Its expected that lines could be long for up to a month or two.  They may dwindle slightly, however, when two more are open in the metro area later this summer - in Elk River in July and in Savage in August.

What is Sonic?  Well, they have no indoor seating. Customers can eat on an outdoor patio, go through the drive-thru, or eat in their cars with food brought out by wait staff on roller skates.  The food offered is of a familiar fair, with hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, salads, wraps, and sides.  Unlike other fast food chains, they do offer breakfast all day long. 

It’s a drive-in? So what happens in January?  The owners are undaunted by the fact that there is no indoor seating at their restaurant in Minnesota, where obviously it gets very cold.  There are Sonics in Iowa and Detroit that are making it just fine.  The parking stalls will be plowed and staff will still bring food out to cars.

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