FORDYCE, Ark. — As the novel coronavirus continues to spread across the United States, many restaurants are closing their doors.
For truck drivers, this can be especially problematic because drive-thrus are not accessible to heavy-duty trucks.
Nearly two years ago, Sonic in Fordyce, Arkansas built a drive-thru specifically for heavy-duty trucks.
Employees confirmed on Mar. 19 the drive-thru is still in open for business.
An employee at the Sonic in Fordyce, Ark., delivers an order to a truck driver. The Sonic, which opened in September 2018, created a drive-thru specifically built to accommodate truck drivers.
How it started
As they were scouting their new location, the owners of the Sonic Drive-In in Fordyce, Ark., noticed all the big rigs traveling on Arkansas Highway eight and nearby U.S. Route 79.
“They were looking at (Route) 79 and noticed the incredible number of 18 wheelers going by,” said Travis Larison, an area supervising partner for Sonic. “They got to talking and decided to put in a drive-thru for big trucks.”
They got measurements from a tractor-trailer and then set out to build a Sonic with the components of a normal drive-in.
Then they added accessible digital screens, a driveway, and a larger parking area.
Completed in September 2018, the Sonic featured 17 stalls and a drive-thru window for passenger vehicles, as well as two standalone menus for trucks pulling trailers and a third menu for 18-wheelers and buses.
To allow employees to deliver the food to the truckers, they got steps that would be typically used for a mobile home.
“We hadn’t done anything like this before, so it was kind of scary,” Larison said. “We had already built the place and spent $2 million, so we hoped we had the correct angle and everything. We went and found a truck driver and told him we’d give him a free meal if he’d come to the Sonic and test this out for us. He went through, and it was just the right height.”
“We put on Facebook that we had a stall for 18 wheelers, and it went viral,” Larison said. “We had almost 1 million views. A truck driver in Georgia saw it and called just to say thank you."
"He wasn’t the only one. The post was shared 8,600 times and received 456 comments, mostly positive ones from truckers. In a world that often seems to go out of its way not to accommodate truckers, the gesture was well received."
So far, Larison said about 500 trucks use the drive-thru each month with the average ticket price being about $2.50 more than from passenger vehicles.
“We know how many trucks there are on the highway, and we wanted to find a way to accommodate them. Those guys get hungry too, so it seemed like time to do something about it.”