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Car Hops, Burgers and Shakes: Sonic is Coming to Ellicott City

The throwback drive-in burger joint is moving in on Route 40.

Yes, it’s true. Sonic is coming to Elliott City. 

The fast food chain, known for keeping the drive-in, car hop and mixed fountain drink alive, will be moving in to 10164 Baltimore National Pike, at the site formerly occupied by 84 Lumber.

When is it coming?

“Well, given that this is now my fourth development project, I’m very reluctant to put a date out there,” said franchisee David Crocetti, who lives in Ellicott City.

“It would be great if we could be open by the end of summer,” he said.

Crocetti owns Sonics in Randallstown, Baltimore city and Edgewater, so he knows these things take time.

Once the restaurant does open, it will feature throw-back style fast food, the restaurant’s signature car ports, and something a little different.

“This is the first sonic in Maryland, one of a handful in the country, that is going to have indoor seating,” Crocetti said. That option will help bolster business in the colder months, when people may not want to sit in their cars and drink a milkshake. 

Allowing people to park and sit inside will also help alleviate some of the traffic that the restaurant is sure to bring.

“Our Randallstown store was the busiest in Maryland,” he said. Cars were lined up more than 100 at a time for several weeks. But Crocetti says he’s never had an issue – he’ll hire people to direct traffic off of main roads and, being on a large site, he’ll have a staging area for cars to wait for the drive-thru or car ports. 

All of that business means a lot of jobs. Crocetti, who is a 50 percent owner with Anne Arundel resident Sean Martin under the Macro Restaurant Group, said he expects to employ 80 to 100 people when the restaurant opens, but that number will inevitably drop.

“In the beginning, we’re always very, very busy,” he said. “Ideally we hope everyone can stick around but in some cases, they work one day and it’s, ‘This is too busy for me, that’s it.’”

Beyond providing burgers and jobs, Crocetti said that Sonic works to give back to the community, which happens to be his community. He lives less than a mile from the restaurant.

“We tend to focus on programs that benefit youth – we have programs that raise funds for local schools and other organizations,” he said, especially athletic programs. Sonic, which boasts 3,500 drive-ins across the country, has donated more than $2 million to public schools, according to the company's website.

This won’t be Crocetti’s final Sonic in Maryland – his franchise agreement dictates that he’ll open a total of nine of the restaurants in his territory, which includes Howard, Carroll, Baltimore and part of Anne Arundel counties.

For now, however, he’s focusing on the Ellicott City location as it enters the zoning phase. Then, construction can begin.

Columbia Independent April 10, 2013 at 04:52 PM
This is great news. I've never been to the other Maryland Sonic locations, mostly because of the hassle with traffic when they opened. Having one close by will be nice, although I may have to avoid it for the first few weeks for the same reason.

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