SONIC media kit IV -- SONIC's road to success

SONIC’s Road to Success

1953: Troy Smith opens his first Top Hat Drive-In in Shawnee, Okla., featuring an intercom speaker system for ordering and Carhop delivery service.

1956: Charles Pappe partners with Smith and opens the second Top Hat in Woodward, Okla.

1958: Top Hat Drive-Ins operating in Enid, Shawnee, Stillwater and Woodward, Okla.

1959: Due to trademark issues with the Top Hat name, drive-ins are renamed SONIC Drive-In for “Service at the Speed of Sound™.” In June, the Stillwater drive-in is the first to change its name to SONIC.

1963: SONIC celebrates 10 years with 19 drive-ins in Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas.

1973: SONIC turns 20 and several important events set the stage for the future growth of the company.
  • With 165 drive-ins in operation, 10 principal franchisees form SONIC Systems of America (later to become SONIC Industries).
  • SONIC Systems of America offers each drive-in operator the option to purchase 1,250 shares of stock in the company at $1 per share and SONIC becomes an over-the-counter, publicly traded company.

1977: Prime Time! The first SONIC television commercial airs on network television.

1980: Play Time! The first SONIC National Convention takes place in New Orleans.

1983: SONIC turns 30 with 975 drive-ins.

1986: SONIC’s top management completes a $10 million leveraged buyout of the company.

1991: SONIC completes an initial public offering (IPO) and SONIC stock begins trading on the NASDAQ under the symbol SONC.

1993: SONIC turns 40 with 1,274 drive-ins nationwide.
  • Kimberly Aiken, a former Columbia, S.C. Carhop, is crowned Miss America.
1994: SONIC 2000, a five-year re-imaging strategy begins:
  • The new “retro-future” SONIC logo is introduced.
  • For the first time, the entire system adopts a consistent menu and appearance with store-level retrofits.
  • The Fountain Favorites® and Frozen Favorites® menu is introduced to expand daypart sales and crew members flaunt new uniforms.
1997: First SONIC television commercial airs on cable television on ESPN.

1999: The 2,000th SONIC Drive-In opens in Oklahoma City.

2000: SONIC enters the digital world with its own URL: www.SONICdrivein.com.

2001: SONIC’s 10th year as a publicly held company
  • SONIC Carhop named one of Teen People magazine’s “Top 10 Jobs That Rock.”
2002: SONIC is repeatedly recognized in several leading publications:
  • Forbes magazine (October 2002)-SONIC is one of three companies named to the “200 Best Small Companies in America” list for the ninth consecutive year.
  • BusinessWeek magazine (June 2002)-SONIC is named to the “Hot Growth Companies” list.
  • 2,533 SONIC Drive-Ins coast to coast

  • Average unit sales are $906,000

2003: Party Time! SONIC IS 50!
  • SONIC initiates a yearlong 50th Birthday Celebration.
  • SONIC sets out to find the Ultimate SONIC Fan in America with the help of its managers and crew members. SONIC received nearly 1,000 nominations, and selected Beverly Harris of Frisco, Texas, as the Ultimate SONIC Fan. Harris earned a trip to Hawaii for the 2003 Annual SONIC Convention.
  • 2,706 SONIC Drive-Ins coast to coast
  • Average unit sales are $907,000
  • SONIC moves into new corporate headquarters in Bricktown, a culturally rich area of downtown Oklahoma City. The new address is 300 Johnny Bench Drive, Oklahoma City, OK 73104.

2004: Awards and acclaim for SONIC
  • SONIC Chairman and CEO Cliff Hudson named top quick-service restaurantexecutive of the year by the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association for its annual Silver Plate Awards. A committee consisting of the editors of food service industry publications and last year's winners of the Silver Plate awards selected the winners.
  • SONIC television and radio spots featuring the “Two SONIC Guys” win top honors:
    • National ADDYs - Silver
    • Radio Mercury Award
  • 2,885 SONIC Drive-Ins coast to coast
  • Average unit sales are $964,000
  • SONIC listed No. 6 on Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500® list, the most comprehensive ratings list of franchises in the world.

2005: The 3000th SONIC Drive-In opens in SONIC’s hometown of Shawnee, Okla.
  • SONIC named No. 28 in Forbes Magazine’s The 100 Best Mid-Cap Stocks based on its market capitalization.
  • SONIC listed as No. 95 on Forbes’ 200 Best Small Companies list for the 12th consecutive year.
  • 3,039 SONIC Drive-Ins coast to coast
  • Average unit sales are more than $1 million
  • 19 consecutive years of higher same-store sales
  • SONIC listed No. 1 in the hamburger category of Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500® list.

2006: SONIC becomes Your Ultimate Drink Stop!®
  • Luck of the Straw, a promotion celebrating SONIC as the Ultimate Drink Stop sends 15 finalists to Las Vegas; SONIC fan Sutton Cavalier wins $168,894 – the same number of drink combinations now possible at SONIC.
  • Kelly Pickler, a former Carhop at an Albemarle, North Carolina Drive-In is a contestant on American Idol and quickly becomes a fan favorite.
  • Forbes names SONIC to its 200 Best Small Companies List. This is SONIC's 13th consecutive appearance, the longest tenure of any company on the list.
  • Entrepreneur names SONIC to its Franchise 500 list for the fifth straight year, and ranks SONIC as the best franchise in its category for the second straight year.

2007: Wake up with a SONIC Boom!
  • SONIC launched its new premium roast coffees featuring real espresso-based drinks, including iced and hot lattes as well as a frozen-blended Java Chiller and a Sonic Boom – an extra shot of espresso customers may add to any drink flavor.
  • SONIC retrofitted more than 600 partner and franchise drive-ins.
  • More than 3,300 SONIC Drive-Ins across 34 states.
  • Entrepreneur names SONIC® as the No. 1 franchise in the burger category on Entrepreneur's 2006 Franchise® 500 list, the most comprehensive ratings list of franchises in the world. SONIC's overall ranking rises to No. 8 on the Franchise 500® list.

2008: SONIC offers an Everyday Value Menu
  • SONIC launched its Everyday Value Menu to offer guests more affordable options. The menu included primarily new products and new sizing on traditional favorites.
  • SONIC opens its first drive-ins in Chicagoland, Philadelphia, Detroit, St. Paul, and Seattle.
  • The 3500th drive-in opens in Chicagoland (Algonquin, Ill.).
  • SONIC's overall ranking rises yet again to No. 6 on Entrepreneur's 2008 Franchise® 500 list.
  • SONIC ranks number 10 in QSR magazine’s The QSR 50 for systemwide sales for the second year in a row. In addition, SONIC captures the number 4 spot for the second year in a row in the Burger Segment of The QSR 50.
  • R&I’s Top 400 Restaurant Chains listed SONIC at No. 13 based on annual sales, number of units and average unit volume (AUV).

2009: SONIC launches Limeades for Learning®
  • Through a new program, Limeades for Learning®, SONIC and its franchise partners have donated more than $638,000 to public school classrooms in local communities across the country.
  • SONIC opened its first drive-in in the states of Massachusetts, New York and Maryland as well as the first location in the San Diego-area. New drive-ins continue to open in Philadelphia, Pittsburg, Detroit, St. Paul, Los Angeles, Chicago and Seattle.
  • SONIC held its second Free Float Night to say thank you to customers and kick off the summer. More than 5 million free floats were given out to customers.
  • SONIC expands menu options for more health conscious consumers. New items include fresh apple slices with fat-free caramel dipping sauce and a new Premium Grilled Chicken Sandwich prepared fresh with a wheat bun made with whole grain.
  • SONIC's overall ranking rises to No. 4 spot on Entrepreneur's 2009 Franchise® 500.

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