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First Sonic Drive-In.

First Sonic Drive-In Sign

Field review by the editors.

Stillwater, Oklahoma

A survivor from the fast food era of carhops and order-by-speaker service, Sonic still thrives, spread across the Lower 48 in 3,500+ locations. The original prototype for the chain was opened in 1953 in Shawnee, Oklahoma by restaurant entrepreneur Troy N. Smith and named Top Hat Drive-In. In 1956 the first franchise opened in Woodward, Oklahoma. The Stillwater franchise drive-in was constructed and opened in 1958, along with another in Enid. In 1959, to avoid conflict with another food business trademarked Top Hat, Smith changed his to Sonic. The first Sonic sign was installed at the third location, Stillwater -- so apparently that cemented its status as the "first" Sonic.

Gene Longworth, Sonic's first manager.

In 2015, the Stillwater Sonic building was torn down to make way for a modernized Sonic. The original sign ("Service With the Speed of Sound") was retained. A life-size bronze statue of Gene Longworth, Sonic's first manager, awaits your appreciation between chomps and glugs.

First Sonic Drive-In Sign

215 N Main St., Stillwater, OK
East side of Main St.
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