Chained Up!

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.


Anonymous said...

I have eaten at Sonic's in the south and mid-west.

They can be good. They aren't as good as In and Out, but then nobody is.

You don't have to worry about the night-time thing. These places are lit up like a Christmas tree. They have all sorts of bright lights, and there isn't a dark spot around any parking spot that the servers go to.

Also, not all the servers skate, some do, some don't.

I grew up in Coos Bay, Oregon. We had an A & W. Built just like the Sonic's are built. The walkway in the middle, and cars facing each other. You drive into your stall, and look at the big menu by your window, and then push the button and order. We would go there in all types of weather. In fact, to this day, it's still a drive in, only not an A & W.

I just hope that whoever the MANAGER and OWNER is of this Sonic, that they watch how the food is prepared, and how good the service is. Too many fast food joints hire kids and don't even try to train them in things like customer satisfaction, or appearance. Just normal, everyday stuff that seems to be missing in most our local fast food places.

I will wait till all the locals rush this place and try to be the first to get a burger, then when they've gotten into the swing of things out there, will go and try them. I am hoping we have a winner for a fast food burger in this town. I am hoping that they have a long and busy operation, and I am hoping for TRADER JOES to get off the pot and come down here too!

KandN said...

I vaguely recall paying via debit card on the order board beside our car, when we went to the Medford Sonic. I don't know how new that particular store is, but cleanliness and friendliness seem to be priorities. A manager walked down the sidewalk and checked to make sure everyone was satisfied with their orders, during our visit.
Speaking of car hop places, there's a great one on Harvard in Roseburg, called Pete's. Their "goop" for the fresh fries was a big favorite of our whole family when we lived there.

Anonymous said...

Sonic is just alright as far as burgers and fries go, but their drinks are pretty good.

Anonymous said...

NO place on EARTH is worth the lines at sonic today!!!

Anonymous said...

I road tripped it with some friends from OSU tonight. It took us about an hour of waiting lol. I thought this place was better than Burgerville, which I think is the best fast-food burger joint I've been to.

Not worth waiting if your not a college student without anything better to do.