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Sonic: America’s Drive-In picks its first place – South Hill

Post by News Tribune Staff on Aug. 28, 2008 at 1:40 pm with No Comments »
August 28, 2008 1:40 pm

Let the lip-smacking anticipation begin. Sonic’s first Puget Sound region drive-in restaurant will go up at the corner of 136th Street East and Meridian Avenue on South Hill.

Location of future Sonic Drive-in
This vacant corner at 136th Street East and Meridian Avenue will serve as the home for Sonic’s first drive-in restaurant in the Puget Sound region.

J. David Orem, who owns the franchise rights in the region, said he will sign the lease agreement Friday.

When will it open? That will depend largely on how fast Pierce County approves the permits, said Orem, who plans to file his application as early as next week.

“We’re readying all our drawings,” said Orem this week while on the road to visit the new Sonic in Vancouver. “Once we get the permit, we’ll be under construction for 90 days, then we’ll open. (When the application’s filed with) the folks at Pierce County who make the decisions with regard to building permits, it’s out of my hands. If there was any way I could speed the process up, I’d like to open by Christmastime.

Otherwise, plan for early 2009.

Fortunately, Sonic has some powerful followers inside Pierce County’s Planning and Land Services Department.

“I’m a fan of Sonic,” said Chuck Kleeberg, who runs the department. “(We) generally stop by for a shake in Texas and North Carolina when

we visit relatives.”

Meanwhile, Mike Noot, plans examiner supervisor, says he “had Sonic burgers while I was in Mississippi after (Hurricane) Katrina and am

looking forward to their arrival here.”

PALS needs 28 days, according to its guidelines, Noot said.

I’m sure Sonic fans would say, “Guidelines, schmidelines. Get ‘er done.”

The other three corners of the highly traveled Meridian intersection include Ballou Junior High School, U.S. Post Office and South Hill General Medical Clinic.

Rush Commercial continues construction on a new, Northwest-style architecture strip mall behind the vacant space where Sonic will locate. Ted Brown Music has inked a deal to open in the building. Medical and dental professionals also have looked at the two story spaces. And Viking Bank will open a branch next to Sonic, said Jerome O’Leary, agent for GVA Kidder Matthews.

Orem’s company, Sonic Northwest, continues to negotiate leases on several other sites in the region, including Bonney Lake and Tacoma.

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