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Business is hopping at new drive-in eatery

Ryan Graff
Special to the Post Independent
Post Independent Photo/Jim Noelker
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RIFLE ” Last month Garfield County residents ate at least 3,250 pounds of rings.

Every day, the new Sonic drive-in restaurant in Rifle goes through at least 150 pounds of onions to make their special hand-made onion rings.

Lori and Dean Sigler, former managers for McDonald’s, opened the restaurant Jan. 30 and haven’t had time to look back since.



“It’s crazy,” said manager and co-owner Lori Sigler. “Very, very busy.”

Within the first hour of business on opening day, every one of the restaurant’s 29 drive-in stalls was full, said Sigler.



“Things are going well,” said Dean Sigler. “We’ve had more than we expected, that’s for sure.”

The Siglers own the restaurant with two other couples: Thomas and Cecilia LaFrenz, who live north of Silt, and Art and LaPriel Armijo, of Peach Valley.

Even before the opening of the restaurant things moved fast.

The investors contacted Sonic’s headquarters in Oklahoma City last spring. The company sent information out within a few days, and had a company representative out to visit them just days after that, and they now have an open and operating restaurant less than one year after the initial contact, said Cecilia LaFrenz.

Sonic is modeled after a 1950s style drive-in, complete with rollerskating carhops, and feel-good music playing from the order speakers next to each car.

What makes Sonic different from other fast-food restaurants is its fixed-when-you-order policy, said Sigler.

“Everything is made fresh,” she said. “It might take a little longer, but it doesn’t sit in any warming bins.”

That policy, combined with the large variety on the menu, made a Sonic franchise an attractive investment, said LaFrenz.

Sonic has everything from Supersonic jalapeno cheeseburgers to Coneys (Sonic’s hot-dog), to pancakes on a stick to coconut cream pie shakes.

Sonic offers something new

So far, all the investors are pleased with the popularity of the restaurant, and attribute part of that popularity to offering a new choice.

“I think everybody in the community is looking for something new,” said Dean Sigler.

Customers seem to echo that idea.

Ed Walters of Glenwood Springs helped excavate the building site and last Thursday was on his fourth visit since Sonic opened.

“I’m tired of Big Macs and Whoppers,” he said.

Sigler said the drive-in has had customers from as far away as Craig and Meeker.

The restaurant’s popularity is great for business, but does make running the new restaurant more difficult.

“It’s a little bit of a challenge because we have so many new employees,” said Sigler.

For the opening, Sonic headquarters had experienced employees from other stores come to help train the 50 new employees.

The store is still a little slower than it would like to be in serving its drive-in customers.

“We’re doing pretty good,” said Sigler. “And service times continue to drop.”

The Rifle Sonic would like to meet the company-wide standard of filling drive-in orders within four minutes.

“We’re just barely over that right now,” said Sigler. “And we’d like to do less than that.”

Sigler said the partners also own the rights to build Sonics in Glenwood Springs and Delta.

For now, the investors expect to stay busy in Rifle making 150 pounds of onion rings a day. The hand-made rings are so good they are even gaining converts.

“I’m addicted to coconut cream pie shakes and their onion rings,” said LaFrenz. “I’ve never been an onion ring eater until these things.”

Contact Ryan Graff: 945-8515, ext. 534

rgraff@postindependent.com


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