Area residents who have been anticipating the opening of Atmore’s new Sonic restaurant won’t have much longer to wait. Barring any last-minute snags, the drive-in eatery will begin serving its burgers, hot dogs, tater tots and other popular fare to the public Wednesday afternoon.
“We plan to go full-bore about 4 p.m., Wednesday,” said Anita Sigler, who will manage the restaurant. “We’ll be fine-tuning things on Tuesday, then we will have several trainers come in earlier on Wednesday and serve our employees to make sure all our equipment is working properly and all our product is up to standard.”
Sigler, who has been managing the Bay Minette Sonic for the past year and a half and was manager of the Hardee’s in Atmore for five years, pointed out that many potential customers are apparently chomping at the bit to enjoy their favorites.
“We’ve had quite a few pull through here the last couple of days, expecting to order,” she laughed.
The influx of early arrivers prompted Don DeClue, the project’s construction supervisor, to park his truck across the entrance in order to deter early arrivals and curiosity seekers.
“I had to consider the safety of my men,” DeClue said of the drastic measure.
Sigler said she has hired 71 employees to date and is “still looking at applications.” She said she expected “a minimum of 40” of those to become a part of a dedicated crew that will keep service at a respectable level.
“It takes a good machine to run a Sonic,” she said. “We’ll probably have some people that this is their first job, and they find out they don’t really like it. But we are going to have good, dedicated employees who provide good service.”
DeClue, whose crews were still at work Monday as 9 p.m. approached, said that his “punch list is shrinking” as the opening nears.
Jason McNeill, regional vice president of operations for Mississippi-based MVP Sonic Group’s southern district, said Monday that the company had looked at putting a restaurant in Atmore as far back as 2013, when it opened its Monroeville location.
“We had considered Atmore; we wanted to put a Sonic here,” said McNeill. “We kind of misjudged the traffic that is in this area, though. We were a little worried that the location was so far from the population center. But there is a lot more traffic out here than we thought.”
Sigler said she had high hopes for a successful opening and a successful presence in the area.
“I feel like we’re going to do pretty well here,” she said.