If anyone in Circleville, Ohio stopped by the local Sonic for some Chili Cheese Coneys and tots before getting moderately high and watching ABC’s Red Carpet coverage, they would’ve been greeted by a handwritten note taped to the restaurant’s front door.
“Warning: Due to terrible management, the whole store has quit,” the letter read, according to a photo posted on social media. “The company has been sold to people that don’t give a f*uck [sic] about anyone but themselves. Sorry for the inconvenience, but our team refuses to work for a company that treats their employees like shit when they have put everything into this story [sic].”
The now-former employees signed off with an all caps “FUCK YOU” to the new owners—and they weren’t the only Ohio Sonic workers who walked off the job over the weekend. According to the Scioto Post, the entire staff at the Grove City and Lancaster Sonics also quit, and the latter group hung signs that said “Goodbye” and “Thank you next” on the door. (They also printed out an email that was sent to the restaurant’s previous owners, calling them “the most trashiest company we have ever seen.”)
An anonymous source told the Post that those restaurants abruptly changed ownership, after being sold to SRI Operating Company, an affiliate of Sonic itself that operates franchises across the country. “Circleville, Lancaster, and Grove City crews have all walked out and quit after the franchise was bought out by corporate,” the source said. “The regional director, two district managers and four general managers have all been let go. All of which have been working for the company in management for 7+ years.”
In addition, the new ownership has allegedly slashed the in-restaurant workers’ pay from minimum or “near-minimum” wage to a rate of $4 per hour, plus tips. As one person responded on Twitter, “TIPS. AT A FAST FOOD JOINT.”
WSYX reports that eight Sonic restaurants in Central Ohio—including those in Lancaster and Grove City—are reopening Monday under new management and new ownership. (The Circleville Sonic was reportedly training new staff and will open on Tuesday). Two other Sonics in the area have been closed permanently. And according to Dayton.com, another eight restaurants in and around Dayton, Ohio were also taken over by SRI Operating Company, and two of those locations were swiftly closed, too.
“Under new management, guests and the community can look forward to improved service and the famous food, beverages and treats for which SONIC is known,” a Sonic spokesperson told WSYX. “Employees working for the local drive-in can look forward to fun, fast-paced work on which they can build a career, if they choose. Most current employees will have the opportunity to continue to work at the drive-in under the new ownership.”
The spokesperson said that she understood that “changes like this can be difficult for employees to understand”, but repeated the statement that the “current employees will have the opportunity to continue working at the drive-in.”
In a statement to MUNCHIES, Sonic communications manager Kyle Lankford hit several of his colleague’s talking points, with one major exception: He says that there has been no change to the workers’ paychecks. “No wage rates at any level have decreased in this transition,” he said. “Of course, Sonic carhops often receive tips in addition to their wages.”
But still, if Sonic swooped in, bought out the previous owners, upended the management structure, and closed four restaurants, then “Thank you, next,” is pretty much all those workers wished to say.