Sonic Restaurants Close in Cedar Rapids, Coralville, Waterloo

By George Ford, Reporter

Vehicles line up at the Sonic America's Drive-In along Blairs Ferry Road NE on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2006, in northeast Cedar Rapids. (JIM SLOSIAREK/THE GAZETTE)


By Aaron Hepker

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - The Cedar Rapids-based owner of Sonic restaurants in the Corridor and Waterloo has shut them down, putting the properties and the buildings on the sale block.

Iowa Drive-Ins LLC owned and managed Sonics at 2905 Blairs Ferry Rd. NE and 560 33rd Ave. SW in Cedar Rapids, 604 Second St. in Coralville and 42 E. Tower Park Dr. in Waterloo. The restaurants closed within the last month and menu boards were removed despite signs at two locations indicating they were “closed for the season.”

Effort to contact a representative of Iowa Drive-Ins for comment have not been successful. A posting on the Facebook page for Sonic Drive-Ins of Eastern Iowa confirms the closing of the restaurants, saying “the poor economy and rising food costs have made it impossible to remain profitable.”

Craig Byers of NAI Iowa Realty Commercial in Cedar Rapids said the buildings and property have been listed for sale at prices ranging from $890,000 in Waterloo to $1.35 million in Coralville. The restaurant equipment will be sold separately.

The listings suggest the buildings can be restaurants or converted to a bank branch, convenience store or similar uses. Byers said the owner also is open to the purchase of the property for complete redevelopment.

Iowa Drive-Ins opened the Cedar Rapids and Coralville locations more than three years ago with expectations of building as many as eight or 10 locations in Eastern Iowa. The Coralville location was inundated by floodwaters in June 2008, but was repaired and reopened for business.

Sonic, a publicly-traded restaurant chain based in Oklahoma City, Okla., has more than 3,500 locations coast to coast. The company started as a hamburger and root beer stand in 1953 in Shawnee, Okla., called Top Hat Drive-In, and changed its name to Sonic in 1959.

Most Sonic restaurants do not offer indoor seating, but have operated successfully in northern climates where drive-ins typically close during the winter months. The A&W Restaurant on Ellis Boulevard NW in Cedar Rapids closed during the winter months before it was permanently shut down after it was severely damaged by the June 2008 flood.

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