2023 marks the 60th year of the restaurant chain that would become Sonic and its resurgence in Iowa is on its way.

If you've lived in eastern Iowa for more than a decade, you undoubtedly remember there were a number of Sonic Drive-In locations in Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, and Coralville. According to the Gazette, those all closed in late 2011.

Nik Bhakta, a man who already owns over 100 Sonic Drive-Ins including locations in Davenport, Keokuk, and Des Moines, has signed a development agreement to open 10 more in the state of Iowa. Those restaurants are planned for the metropolitan areas of Davenport, Des Moines, and Iowa City, with additional stores in other locations also possible in the future.

Three or four of the 10 Sonic restaurants are expected to open in Iowa City/Coralville. Bhakta told the Gazette his plans are “...to develop one close to the mall, one close to the University (of Iowa) and one on the far southeast side. Additionally, we may look at North Liberty as that area grows.”

No new Sonic locations have been confirmed yet, but Bhakta hopes to open some locations by the end of 2023.

The roots of Sonic can be traced to a restaurant called Top Hat Drive-In in Shawnee, Oklahoma. It opened in 1953 and several other Top Hat Drive-In locations opened before the owners realized another company had already copyrighted the name. The Top Hat slogan at the time was "Service at the Speed of Sound," which helped the owners come up with the new name "Sonic". They changed Top Hat to Sonic in 1959.

There are now more than 3,500 Sonic Drive-In locations in the U.S., but only seven in Iowa. However, more are on the way.

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