Food and Drink

Sonic Drive-In becomes latest chain restaurant to get a warm reception in Anchorage

With chili cheese tots, cheeseburgers and cherry limeades on hand, Sonic Drive-In started serving its fast-food classics this week in South Anchorage.

Cars lined Huffman Road on Wednesday afternoon, the line reaching nearly a half-block back as customers patiently waited to pull closer to the restaurant for their turn to order. The national chain’s newest location, which opened Monday at 1137 Huffman Road, is offering only drive-thru service at the moment but hopes to open its drive-in stalls and dining room soon, the company wrote on Facebook.

Many customers waited nearly an hour in the line Wednesday but said they expected it’d be well worth the wait.

Anchorage resident Andrea Trimor said she and her sister are excited to have the fast-food restaurant nearby. The first Sonic in Alaska opened in 2019 in Wasilla followed by another location in Fairbanks, and Anchorage residents tend to welcome national chains with big crowds and fanfare.

“At least we don’t have to drive about an hour out,” she said. “Especially with the roads being what they are right now, I don’t want to risk my car. It’s like one of those rare things for Alaska to have just because we’re so far out.”

A few cars ahead of Trimor, Jason Knutson and his wife, Melissa, said they wanted to get lunch at Sonic on their day off from work. For Jason Knutson, the slushes bring back memories of his childhood in Texas. Sonic first opened in Oklahoma during the 1950s and has locations in nearly every state now.

“We used to go to Sonic on the way home from football practice,” he said. “And in Texas, that’s since you’re 8 years old.”

Melissa Knutson said the visit is reminiscent of when she lived in the Lower 48 and stopped by Sonic almost every day on her way to work. The standout item for her is the unsweetened iced tea — she likes the ice, which comes in small pellets instead of regular cubes.

The couple said they’re making the wait worthwhile and plan to pick up a cheeseburger and tots for their neighbor, who was spending the afternoon working.

As they inched forward, a yellow Labrador retriever poked her head from the backseat of their SUV. Would Reagan get anything from the menu?

“We’re debating on that,” Jason Knutson said with a smile.

[Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the number of Sonic Drive-In locations in the state. While the location in Wasilla was the first to open in Alaska, another Sonic has since opened in Fairbanks. The Anchorage location is Alaska’s third.]

Tess Williams

Tess Williams is a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News, focusing on breaking news. Before joining the ADN in 2019, she was a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota and previously helped cover the Nebraska Legislature for The Associated Press. Contact her at twilliams@adn.com.

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