There’s a new Sonic owner in town and his name is Steve Hannah. If Steve is a familiar face to Sonic customers, there’s a good reason for that. He’s worked at our local drive-in for the past 12 years.
“This keeps me young,” said Steve. “It’s fast-paced restaurant work. I really enjoy it.”
Steve gained ownership after 20-year owner Bill Inzer decided it was time to go to that great No. 1 burger in the sky. Bill decided it was time to retire. That left the deep fryer open for Steve, who had been serving as the store’s top manager.
“Warren County really supports us,” said Steve. “We rank fifth in sales in our group, which is 32 stores.”
So what are the best-selling Sonic menu items? Not surprisingly, Steve said it is the burgers, chili cheese tots, onion rings, and milkshakes.
“The onion rings are made from scratch and they’re one of our signature items,” said Steve. “What’s special about our ice cream is it uses 20 percent more butter fat than most other ice creams, so that makes it thicker and creamier.”
Our Sonic has 52 employees who fill shifts from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday thru Saturday, and 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Sunday. There are jobs for carhops, cooks, prep workers, and even a special position in charge of filling fountain drinks.
Steve said the Sonic half price drink special from 2 to 4 p.m. is effective in attracting customers during that time, especially after-school traffic.
Steve also said he’s eager for customer feedback, especially with Sonic rolling out so many new menu items. He said the boneless hot wings that come in six different flavors are popular right now, but new menu items aren’t always a hit.
“I’m here to win customers and to produce the best product we can,” said Steve, a 26-year Army veteran. “I like to get out and interact with customers, but at the same time I realize the reason some people come here is because it’s a drive-in. They don’t have to get out of their car and they don’t want interaction, so when I sense that I move on my way.”
Our Sonic has been at its location on The Strip for 31 years. I’ve been hearing rumors for several months that our Sonic is in line to be demolished and a new one built at that same spot similar to what’s being done at Hardee’s. Steve didn’t want to discuss that subject.
The editors of Business Cheetah would like to take this time to congratulate Steve on being the new owner of Sonic and wish him the best of luck. May your future be filled with cherry limeades.
Who will finish first?
The race is on -- and at this point it’s impossible to predict the winner. Captain D’s and Hardee’s are locked in a battle to see which restaurant will open first.
As it stands, it’s a neck-and-neck race. Both restaurants are estimating they will be open in late November or early December. A sick day by a plumber or electrician could be the difference in this one.
After studying the structures, the lay of the land, and the current momentum, I’m going to make the bold prediction the new Captain D’s will open for business before Hardee’s. It will be by four days.
If I’m right, I’m a genius. If I’m wrong, I’m a laughingstock. If both restaurants open on exactly the same day, it’s a wash. I regret I have but one stomach to give to my country.
Land available at Three Star Mall
Few things escape my observation. So it certainly caught my attention last week when I noticed a large sign in front of Three Star Mall advertising land for sale or for lease.
“It could be a restaurant or it could be whatever anybody wants it to be,” said mall manager Wanda Newby. “We haven’t thought of anything in particular, but it’s a good, high-traffic location.”
In case you haven’t noticed the sign, the property sits at the front of the mall near Sparta Street in a large open area. The way I envision it, a building there would be similar to Burger King or the Kroger gas station the way they sit close to the road.
According to Wanda, the mall owns the property where Burger King is located, but the restaurant owns the building. She said this sort of arrangement could be made for the property that’s currently for sale or for lease.
“There are a lot of restaurants which lease their land,” said Wanda. “It’s a great location. It’s close to the hospital and it’s close to doctors’ offices. We could use some more retail business on this side of town.”
I was talking about the property with a local businessman last week and he made the comment that he’d sure love to see a Chick-fil-A locate there.
Speaking for only myself, I don’t know how many more chicken restaurants we need in McMinnville. If we eat much more chicken, we’re going to start to cluck.
When I asked Wanda for a ballpark figure on what the mall is asking for the property, she wouldn’t discuss price. For more information, call (270) 826-0595.
Arrr, pirates are coming, matey
Let’s continue the restaurant stream of consciousness and talk about Pirates Cove, a new restaurant in the works near the fairgrounds. Jennifer Wilmoth is the owner and she hopes to be open the second week of November.
“I want to start off small with a restaurant, deli and market,” said Jennifer. “All our food will be prepared fresh. There won’t be anything sitting in a hotbox all day.”
Jennifer knows her way around a restaurant as she’s done restaurant work for years. She has an ambitious schedule as she plans to open at 5 a.m. to begin serving biscuits for breakfast.
“I want to be open when people are going in to work,” she said. “It’s a great location and I’m going to have a family friendly atmosphere. I’m going to have a kids menu and I’m going to have what I call an everyday superhero discount of 10 percent for people in the armed forces, police, firefighters, and EMS workers. It’s a way for me to say thank you for their service.”
Pirates Cove will be located at the intersection of Old Smithville Highway and Yager Road across from the Highway Department. It's the spot which was going to be Rooster's Café, but that business never left the ground.
“I’ll have biscuits, burgers, deli sandwiches, meats and vegetables,” said Jen. “All food will have a to-go option. I’ll have seating for 16 to start and I plan to expand that. We have room for more than 16 seats, but to go more than that we’ll have to have another bathroom and that won’t be finished when I open.”
A general store area will include a few household staples. Jen says she’s located near heavily populated apartment areas and people might enjoy the convenience of dashing into her store as opposed to having to navigate the crowds of a much larger store.
I’ll provide more information on Pirates Cove as the opening date approaches. But to read it, you may have to walk the plank. Arrr.
Bad news for pests
There’s a major remodeling project taking place on the corner of Sparta Street and Creamery Street. When remodeling work takes place, Business Cheetah springs into action.
Dann Stout, owner of Dann’s Termite and Pest Control, has purchased the property and will relocate his business there when renovation work is done.
“We’d like to have it finished by Christmas and move in over the holidays,” said Dann.
Dann’s Termite is currently located on Sunnyside Heights. It’s been there since 2005, which amounts to 11 long years of traveling the worst street in the Western Hemisphere.
“That street has probably taken years off my vehicles, at least years off my tires,” said Dann, who admits he has tried to patch some of the large potholes himself but doesn’t have the necessary equipment.
His new location is a very visible spot. I noticed several people slowing down to take a look at the construction work while I was standing in the parking lot to take a picture. If you’re curious what’s going in that spot, the answer is Dann’s Termite and Pest Control.
The Force is strong with this one
In one of my very first business columns, I did a report on Gayle Yates and referred to her as the Yoda of hair stylists. That moniker has seemed to stick as I’m writing about Gayle some 17 years later and Yoda she still is.
Gayle says recycling is good so she’s recycling herself and returning to work after a 2.5-year retirement. There’s no fear of her being rusty as she’s been a hair stylist since she was 17. She knows her way around the galaxy.
Gayle has reopened her shop at the Salon Suites over the bowling alley. She says this has given her “new life” as styling hair has always been a passion.
If you’re a former customer – and Gayle has many of them – she’s back in the saddle and ready to cut hair Wednesday thru Saturday. She can be reached at 474-9190 or 273-9190.
Terri Bryan joins TCAT
It is with a smile and a warm heart, the Tennessee College of Applied Technology welcomes Mrs. Terri Bryan to its staff. Mrs. Bryan has accepted a new position to TCAT McMinnville, as business solutions and workforce developer.
The primary focus of the position is connecting needs with solutions. TCAT director Dr. Warren Laux says, “Mrs. Bryan will be assessing business and industry needs and coordinating the educational response needed to aid in the development of a highly trained workforce with great employability skills.”
This new position is an idea of brilliance. Our local industries want employees to graduate with skills they need. TCAT is here to provide training in those specific skills. Enter Terri Bryan to connect the dots.
For more information, you can reach Terri at 473-5587 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
That’s all folks
In honor of Halloween, I plan for next week’s business column to be scary. Phone in tips at 473-2191.