Archive for Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Drive-in fares well in contest

June 15, 2005

What happens in Las Vegas likely won't stay in Las Vegas come September, if employees at the Tonganoxie Sonic Drive-In have it their way.

The local restaurant is one of 200 Sonic Drive-Ins across the country that has advanced in the 11th annual Dr. Pepper Sonic Games.

If employees of Tonganoxie's Sonic advance to the finals of the competition, they'll compete Sept. 18 and 19 -- in Las Vegas.

"I hope we make it that far, because I think I've got the best crew in the nation," manager Charlie Kraut said. "But just to be in the top 200 in the nation, that's quite an honor there.

"I've got great employees."

About 2,300 Sonics from across the country started competing in January.

Competition basically is broken down into two categories. First, mystery shoppers order food at the restaurants and rate the service each month. Second, contest organizers call each restaurant competing in the event with quiz questions. The organizers call at random times and quiz whoever is working that shift about items, such as food preparation.

The local Sonic has fielded several quiz questions, Kraut said. Since January, employees have missed just one question -- and it referred to a product that's not on the menu in this region of the country.

At the end of this month, 50 teams will be picked from the 200. At the end of July, 50 they will dwindle to 12. Those final 12 will compete in Las Vegas. A Sonic restaurant there will shut down for the competition, which will include various events, such as timed trials for preparing an item.

Kraut said those foods, at the same time, had to be made correctly.

"It's not only based on speed, but also heavily based on quality," Kraut said.

Kraut's restaurant also advanced to the final 200 in 2001. This year, he hopes his employees can advance to more rounds in what is a nine-month competition.

"It's kind of like the Olympics for Sonic," Kraut said.

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