Long Island's first restaurant opened exactly , and business is still thriving after its honeymoon period.
When Sonic first opened on April 25, 2011, cars backed up the southbound lanes of Deer Park Avenue in North Babylon as waited in line for up to three hours to grab a bite of a burger or shake from a roller-skating employee.
Business has calmed down since then, but the fast-food joint continues to be a hot spot for the lunch crowd.
“It’s been an exceptional year,” owner Bob Fanelli said. “It’s been great the way we’ve been accepted into the community.”
Fanelli stresses the community aspect of his business through partnerships with schools and local groups.
Over the past year, Sonic has donated to more than a dozen local organizations, and purchased school supplies for three separate class projects.
‘Thank you’ cards from children fill the window near the outdoor table section of the restaurant.
“We’re really big on giving back to the community, and thankful that we’ve been accepted as part of it,” he said.
Being the only location on Long Island, the restaurant has also become a bit of a novelty in the area.
“So many people take pictures and videos. They set up chairs and sit outside of their cars, and it’s fun. It’s like a big family,” Fanelli added.
Much of that family vibe comes from the restaurant’s 60 employees, about 50 who have been there since the opening.
“Our staff is the biggest reason why we’re successful,” the owner said.
So far, the biggest hit on the menu has been the No. 2 Super Sonic Double Cheeseburger. However, popcorn chicken is a close runner-up and will become part of the full-time menu in about week due to its popularity.
Fanelli said hopes to open another Long Island location by the end of year. However, its application to the Town of Hempstead to build an East Meadow Sonic was denied last month.
To celebrate its one-year anniversary, Sonic is giving away $1 regular Blasts and $2 large Blasts all day.