The big news in Salem dining this week is the grand opening of the Sonic Drive In on Lancaster. Seriously, did I just write the biggest news in Salem dining is a fast food chain on Lancaster. Anytime a burger joint opens up in town and it's not one of the usual suspects, McDonalds or Burger King, it's like seeing a light at the end of a tunnel. Compared to our usual fare, Sonic seems almost exotic. Looks like you pull into a carport and a server will roller skate up to you and take your order. It's called car hop service and its a throwback to the fifties when restaurants used this business model before drive thrus became a raging success. It probably saves the restaurant money on dining room space and cleanup, since all the mess is in your car. The last restaurant that I've seen doing car hop service was a Bob's Big Boy in SoCal years ago. I wonder how long it will take them to figure out that rollerskating in a wet parking lot has got to be a pretty miserable experience. Not to nit pick, but another potential problem I can see, is servers approaching strange vehicles at night and skating around with cash from customers. Let's hope Sonic provides adequate security and lighting for outdoor employees.
Overshadowed by Sonic's arrival, a new Carl's Jr. opened it's doors on Mission Street somewhere between the bikini barista and the adult shop. They broke out the star costume and waved in drivers headed east on 22. Some of those drivers probably saw the shiny new building and the mascot and thought that they were being led into the Sonic grand opening. Even with another Carl's just a few blocks up the road, a Dairy Queen, Jack in the Box and Burger Basket within a stone's throw, a line of customers waited patiently in the drive thru. Hopefully this Carl's will have better service than the franchise on Commercial St. and Baxter near the south Walmart. That store never gets your order correct. One time they put a wedge cut fries in my child's happy meal.
The 17th of April was also supposed to be the opening day of the Bigfoot Bar and Grill but it seems that it has been postponed again. The owners tell me that the city's plumbing inspector wasn't happy with a pipe in the kitchen and won't allow them to open. It's hard to figure, that KFC on Commercial was built in like three days and a remodel of an existing restaurant has taken since September. The good news is that next door to Bigfoot is a bar called Monaghans II and they are opening today. The head chef there is Mike from the restaurant formerly known as Mike's Steak and Seafood and he'll be making steaks and burgers in that half of the building. The original Monaghans is on Lancaster so technically this is a chain but it is a local one.