Friday, August 1, 2014

Sara Soda Drive-In at former Sonic closes

File photo by Tiffany Tompkis-Condie
The former Sonic building in Bayshore Gardens isn't working out for new businesses.

Sara Soda Drive-In, 6008 14th St. W, closed recently after just more than a month in business. The owner of Sara Soda was a manager of Sax Burgers & Sandwiches, which opened there in February. The owners of Sax moved here from Hendersonville, Tenn., after buying the rights to the Sax name from a restaurant they worked for there.

The manager of Sara Soda told the Herald in June he wasn't sure why the Sax concept didn't work, but relaunched with a few changes and a new name.

A few issues  that could have led to the businesses demise were noticeable. The building lacked a drive-thru, which Sonic even figured out that it needed in its new buildings despite the car hop concept. Neither Sax or Sara Soda were able to take advantage of a full tourism season before hitting the summer, and they weren't open on Sundays either. The menus were cluttered and hard to read, too, and when Sara Soda removed pictures of food on the menu, it eliminated a staple of fast-food menu design done to speed up orders.

Prices dropped at Sara Soda, too, and that could have eliminated profit margins if the volume wasn't there. At one time the Angus burgers were going for $2.

Sonic Drive-In closed there in 2010 with about a dozen other Tampa Bay locations when Mississippi-based franchisee Boyz-N-Burgers LLC defaulted on $37 million in loans.

Sax had signed a lease in November for the outparcel in the Bayshore Gardens Shopping Center from Benderson Development for five years, according to a lease filed with the Manatee County Clerk.

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