Sonic Opening Brings Thunderous Applause and High Hopes to Area

By Pug Ransom

Published February 9th, 2015

LATHAM —Area business leaders are preparing for an explosion of economic development throughout the Capital Region now that Sonic Drive-In has signed a deal to open restaurants in the Albany area.

“This is probably the biggest economic news to ever hit the region since the last time we said something was the biggest economic news to ever hit the region,” said Neil Gravey, president of the Hudson Valley Business Chamber. “We have absolutely no doubt that Sonic will revitalize the region in the exact same way that the chip-fab plants did not.”

The first Sonic restaurant is scheduled to open sometime this spring in Latham. Others are then to follow in Albany, Schenectady, Troy, Saratoga Springs, Clifton Park and Amsterdam.

“We haven’t been this excited since that all-nude girlie joint opened at the corner of Wade Road and Rte. 7,” said Latham resident Burt Wilkerson. “Ever since the mall closed, this has been the kind of shot in the arm we’ve needed.”

Sonic has been aggressive in its push to establish a presence throughout upstate New York, opening restaurants in Watertown, Rochester and Middletown. Future openings are also eyed for Buffalo and Syracuse.

“Just look at Watertown if you want to get a sense of the kind of revitalization I’m expecting,” Gravey said. “Since Sonic opened there, unemployment has plunged from 21 percent to 20.6 percent.”

Earl Pigeon, Town of Colonie historian, said it would be almost impossible to overstate how big of a deal the Sonic opening will be for Latham.

“Without hyperbole,” said Pigeon, “this is probably the one of the most significant events to ever happen in the area — second only perhaps to Starbucks opening shops on both ends of Wolf Road.”