Patrons savor nostalgia as Sonic restaurant opens in downtown Royal Oak


Tim Kulesza, Nico Hall and Christianna Akers weren’t just eating a late-night meal Monday at a patio table in front of the new Sonic restaurant at the southwest corner of 11 Mile and Washington in downtown Royal Oak.

With the wait staff on roller blades, rolling out to vehicles to take orders from customers, the three friends almost felt like they were in the front row of a sporting event.

“It’s cool, different, kind of entertaining,” Hall said, in between bites of a value meal.

The national fast-food chain has always appealed to nostalgia, with a majority of the customers staying in their vehicles in parking stalls to enjoy a meal served by a roller blading waiter or waitress known as a “car hopper.”

Some of the most enthusiastic customers are seniors, according to “car hopper” Josh Wilson.

“Old people eat it up, say this is like A & W or Big Boy back in the day,” Wilson said.

Wilson said being on skates helps the wait staff get meals to customers quickly, sometimes navigating between arriving vehicles. Lina Pepa, a 19-year-old “car hopper” from Clawson, said the job looks more dangerous than it is.

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