Archive for Wednesday, December 1, 1999

Sonic hiring workers for local restaurant

December 1, 1999

Food with the speed of sound should arrive in about two weeks, said Steven Zahn, one of the owners of Sonic, Tonganoxie's newest restaurant.

"Everything's going wonderful," Zahn said. "We're ahead of schedule, thanks in part to the weather we've had this year."

Zahn, who left employment applications at Tonganoxie High School last week, said the fast-food restaurant will provide jobs for 45 to 50 people, some of whom, if Zahn has his way, will move faster than others.

"Hopefully, we'll have carhops on rollerskates," Zahn said.

Kathy Walker, Tonganoxie High School counselor, said she thought that 15 to 20 students picked up applications from her office.

"They're excited about the job opportunity from the standpoint that they don't have to drive out of town," Walker said. "It's convenient to get to and it's a new job opportunity within the city."

Sonic is on the north side of U.S. 24-40 Highway, across from the high school.

Although Zahn said he's pleased with the number of applications for evening shifts, he's concerned because only one person has been hired to work days.

"We need another eight or nine people during the day or that could hold us up from opening," Zahn said.

The restaurant is being built by Russell Cotton, of Cotton Construction, Rantoul.

"Cotton is a general contractor who builds stores and franchises all over the country," Zahn said. "He's built a bunch of Sonics throughout the Midwest."

Cotton may get to build Sonic restaurants, but he doesn't get to dine at them as often as he would like.

"When I'm building these things, I don't get to eat at them," Cotton said, "because when they're finished it's time for me to move on."

So last week in the midst of construction of Tonganoxie's new Sonic, Cotton's hankering for Sonic food prompted him to drive to Bonner Springs for a taste of his favorite fast food.

Cotton likes building Sonics, in part because of the revitalization of the 1950s and 1960s themes, he said.

"This is an upbeat-scale," Cotton said. "It's not just appropriate for the young-in-age; but also for the young-at-heart."

Besides, cruising is still "in," Cotton said, reminiscing.

"The '60s are gone, but the cruising's still here."

Cotton doesn't limit his construction business to Sonics.

"I build post offices, and Casey's General Stores all over the country," Cotton said. "I guess you could say I'm a workaholic."

He likes his job, he said.

"I get to see the country, I see small-town U.S.A. I meet the people, I visit with them, it's fun," he said.

Cotton and Zahn agreed Tonganoxie has positive attributes.

"You're close to the big-city lights if you want to go there," Cotton said, "but you're also close to small-town hospitality,"

Zahn is pleased with the reception he's received here.

"We've had a tremendous amount of support from the people we've worked with here," Zahn said. "It's really nice to be working in small towns. I don't think anybody realizes that unless they've worked in bigger municipalities it's a different situation."

With completion slated for mid-December, construction of the 1,500-square-foot building is moving along.

Cotton said the drive-in will have spaces for 26 cars and even a drive-through window.

"It's typical fast-food restaurant drive-through," Zahn said about the window. "It's not necessarily faster, but people over the years have been trained to believe that drive-throughs are quicker, and it will help us handle our overflow."

Cotton said he'll most likely continue building Sonics, and even dine at them whenever possible.

Considering his experience, one might wonder what is this Sonic-aficionado's favorite item on the menu.

He spreads his arms expansively, and says, "I have a fetish for the ocean water flurries."

What size?

He grins.

"The large, of course."

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