VALLIANT — A new Sonic Drive-In here is sweet on truck drivers and customized the restaurant to accommodate them.
One stall is three feet higher than the others to make it easier for tractor-trailer drivers to read the menu. It's equipped with a sensor that alerts staff that someone is preparing to order. And a circle drive was built around the restaurant to make it easier for drivers to get back on the highway.
“When a trucker pulls up we holler out in the store ‘trucker!' We take care of that trucker as fast as we can. They all love it,” said Julie Dorries, who operates the restaurant with her husband, Tommy.
It's the first Sonic to feature a customized stall, Sonic said. The Oklahoma City-based company supported the idea because it serves the needs of the community.
The couple have wanted to open a Sonic in their home of Valliant for a decade and finally got the company on board.
Valliant, a town of about 750 residents on State Highway 70 in southeastern Oklahoma, receives a lot of truck traffic from the logging industry and a paper mill operated by International Paper.
However, none of the local businesses seemed to cater to truck drivers and trucks are often seen pulled over on the highway to do business, Tommy Dorries said. “We wanted the truckers to have a place to stop and eat,” he added.
The trucker tie has special meaning, too. Julie's father, who recently died of cancer, was a truck driver who loved to eat at Sonic. He was excited about their new venture and wanted to be their first customer, but was too sick.
The Sonic opened Feb. 4 and has a large banner out front that reads “Truckers Welcome!” The store is serving up to 50 truck drivers a day, as well as customers in RVs and buses who appreciate the circle drive. Tommy Dorries says if demand warrants it, they'll add a second stall for truck drivers.
“We love what (Tommy and Julie) Dorries have done in Valliant,” said Mike Gallagher, vice president of development and franchising for Sonic. “We're seeing strong demand for the Sonic experience in small towns across America, and we're always looking for ways to creatively adapt our prototype to best meet the needs of the community.”
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