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Work begins on Watertown Sonic Drive-In

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WATERTOWN — Patrons soon will be able to choose from the more than one million possible drink choices that the Sonic Drive-In on Arsenal Street will offer.

Work began on the 2,580-square-foot restaurant after the city issued a foundation permit, said Thomas A. Johnston, a city code enforcement officer. The Sonic Drive-In is being built on an outer pad in City Center Plaza, near Interstate 81.

Rochester franchisee Fran DeSimone has promised the project will be completed in 60 days.

“It’s a pretty tight schedule,” Mr. Johnston said.

Because of the north country’s harsh winters, the Arsenal Street restaurant will be a little larger than other Sonics, Mr. Johnston said. This one will have a dining room, he said.

The 48-seat Watertown store initially would employ 100 to 120 workers, and then be whittled down to about 50, Mr. DeSimone said two months ago.

Maggar Management and Development, Rochester, is the project’s general contractor. The firm has hired a number of local companies to be involved in the construction, Mr. Johnston said.

The Watertown franchise will be operating before any of the five Sonic Drive-Ins he plans to open in the Rochester area over the next four years. Five others are planned for the Syracuse area. The Watertown location would be one of a handful of Sonics in upstate New York.

The Oklahoma fast-food restaurant chain bills itself as America’s drive-in, and is known for its carhops and large outdoor patios.

While fast-food aficionados cannot get the chain’s food now, they probably have seen the company’s humorous television ads, which feature two guys sitting in the front seat of a car, munching on hot dogs and enjoying milkshakes.

The menu also includes breakfast burritos, hamburgers, chicken and chicken tenders and 1,360,000 possible combinations of drinks, Mr. DeSimone said, because customers can mix and match flavors.

The Watertown drive-in will join Buffalo Wild Wings, Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Ruby Tuesday’s, Starbucks, AT&T, Ponderosa, Holiday Inn Express and Hilton Garden Inn already at City Center Plaza, and Moe’s Southwest Grill, Cold Stone Creamery and CiCi’s Pizza in Seaway Plaza, across the parking lot from the Chipotle.

Meanwhile, the expanded Mobil convenience store and gas station nearby at 1268 Arsenal St. opened last weekend. A full-fledged Tim Hortons is expected to open inside the 5,500-square-foot building, but work on the facade has not yet started.

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