Sonic Drive-In is now under the same company that controls Arby’s and Buffalo Wild Wings, as it was just sold to Inspire Brands for a staggering $2.3 billion.
The sale takes Sonic out of the publicly traded-market and makes it a privately-owned fast food chain, as Inspire Brands is under the control of private equity firm Roark Capital. According to CNBC, that gives the business a fast food empire of more than 8,000 restaurants valued at $12 billion total.
For Sonic fans, though, going from public to private marks a major turning point for the drive-in chain. As a private company, they can focus more resources on growth and innovation, something Inspire Brands wants to happen. Sonic has diversified itself in the tech and food sectors of fast food, with the mushroom-packed Signature Slinger and their app’s revolutionary order speed turning heads this year.
Inspire hopes to take Sonic’s customizable menu to a new level, and while it is already quite malleable, it’ll be creative new items and growth in technology that’ll help Sonic grow even further in the coming years.
Sonic can also leverage its new partner to grow and expand its presence to cities and states it isn’t in yet. They currently have about 3,500 locations in 44 states, but they can use their resources to expand to all 50 much more quickly. This would make them a bigger threat and competitor to companies like McDonald’s, especially with the fact that Sonic can process several customers at once, thanks to their unique technology and restaurant model.
Thanks to their innovations over the past year, Sonic is presenting a refreshing take on what the old school drive-in can be. And now, they have the backing and partners to bring that model to even more people and use it to challenge some of the industry’s biggest names. It’ll be interesting to see just how competitive Sonic becomes in the coming years.