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Sonic Drive-In is an American drive-in-diner fast-food restaurant chain based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, complete with carhops who sometimes wear rollerskates. As of September 9, 2009,[dated info] there were 3,500 restaurants in forty-four U.S. states. Following World War II, Troy N. Smith Sr., Sonic’s founder, returned to his hometown of Shawnee, Oklahoma where he became employed as a milkman. He then decided to work delivering bread because bread was not as heavy. He soon purchased the Cottage Cafe, a little cafÃ© in Shawnee. Before long he sold it and opened a restaurant, Troy’s Pan Full of Chicken, on the edge of Shawnee. In 1953, he added a small root-beer stand, the Top Hat Drive-In, to the property. After realizing that the stand was averaging US$700 a week in the sale of root beer, hamburgers and hot dogs, Smith decided to focus on the more-profitable drive-in and scrapped plans to expand the restaurant into a fancier steakhouse.
Originally, Top Hat customers would park their automobiles anywhere on the gravel parking lot and walk up to place their orders. However, on a trip to Louisiana, Smith saw a drive-in that used speakers for ordering. He realized that he could increase his sales if he could control the parking and have the customers order from speakers at their cars. Carhops would then deliver the food to the customers. Smith borrowed several automobiles from a friend who owned a used-car lot to establish a layout for controlled parking. He also had some so-called “jukebox boys” come in and wire an intercom system in the parking lot. Sales tripled immediately and his little root-beer stand was a huge success. Charles Woodrow Pappe, an entrepreneur, stopped â€” by chance â€” at the Shawnee drive-in and was very impressed. He got out of his car and began to take measurements of the stalls, trying to determine why they were not all the same size, assuming that it was an essential ingredient of the business plan. Smith came out and introduced himself and explained that the stalls were different sizes simply because different-sized automobiles had been used when he laid out everything. The two men hit it off and, in 1956, negotiated the first franchise location in Woodward, Oklahoma. By 1958, two more drive-ins were built in Enid and Stillwater, Oklahoma.