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Q&A: What’s going on with the Sonic Drive-In project on Antelope Road?

Signage indicating a new Sonic Drive-In and AM/PM convenience store appears at the corner of Antelope Road and Roseville Road, just outside of Citrus Heights. // CH Sentinel

By Thomas J. Sullivan–
Drivers passing just outside the border of Citrus Heights on Antelope Road near Roseville Road have long-seen signage in a vacant field announcing a new Sonic Drive-In restaurant and ARCO gas station “coming soon” at the corner location.

But the field is again covered in tall weeds, and no construction progress has been seen at the site in over a year. So what’s going on?

According to Sacramento County records, a permit to build a 24-hour AM/PM gasoline station and convenience store, car wash and the 24-hour Sonic Drive-In on a triangular-shaped 1.55-acre parcel near Antelope Road and Interstate 80 was submitted to the Sacramento County Planning Department in September 2016. Signage for the proposed project had been up for more than a year.

Owner Sandy Mann, chief executive officer for the Concord, Calif.-based Elite Business Enterprises, anticipates ground breaking in late July. His company opened another Sonic Drive-in about 90 miles away in the city of Pittsburg late last year.

“This construction project has been in the process for over four years,” Mann said. “It’s been a grueling process.”

The drive-in restaurant will feature a smaller outdoor canopy than was originally planned, Mann said. He expects building permits should be issued within the next 30 to 60 days.

“We had to revise and resubmit multiple permits to Sacramento County, including answering questions about noise abatement and have a traffic study approved before the overall project could move ahead.”

“The key features of this project will include the combination of an AM/PM convenience store, a gasoline station and a larger drive-through car wash on the site,” Mann said.

Sonic Corp., the parent company of Sonic Drive-In, an Oklahoma City-based fast-food hamburger chain, has struggled with franchises in Sacramento. Three Sonic locations in greater Sacramento closed in 2014.

Joe Morian, real estate director for Sonic, Inc., confirmed with The Sentinel on Thursday that the ground breaking for the new location on Antelope Road is expected by late July, or early August.

Four months ago, Sonic Corp. announced it had been acquired by Inspire Brands, an Atlanta-based multi-brand restaurant company that also owns more than 8,000 other restaurant locations, including Arby’s and Buffalo Wild Wings.

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