Arby’s parent company buys Sonic for $2.3B as it fortifies its empire with more fast food

Arby’s parent company buys drive-in fast-food chain Sonic for $2.3B as it continues to fortify its walls with nostalgic fast-food brands.


September 26, 2018

Arby’s owner Inspire Brands announced it is buying carhop-style burger chain Sonic Corp. for $2.3B, including debt.

The move builds on the fast-food conglomerate’s existing survival strategy of vacuuming up interesting restaurant chains to protect itself from the food fads and economic downturns that run rampant in the mouth-fuel industry.

And Arby’s is the one leading the charge?

You bet your sweet roast beast. Arby’s Restaurant Group (majority owned by Roark Capital) created Inspire in February after the Arby’s and Buffalo Wild Wings merger — and it’s clearly just the tip of the sauce bottle for what’s to come.

According to WSJ, CEO Paul Brown hopes to ’suade die-hards of one chain to visit others in Inspire’s expanding portfolio (which plans to buy as many as 10 chains with annual sales of up to $4.5B).

For now, Sonic is the ‘ideal fit’ to beef up the portfolio

First opened in 1953 Oklahoma as a root-beer stand, Sonic is now the largest drive-in chain in the country with 3.5k restaurants in 44 states.

Like other beleaguered fast-foodies on Inspire’s roster, Sonic struggled to flip ’em fast enough to keep up with the competitive fast-food industry — Sonic shares have trailed burger barons like McDonald’s and Red Robin.

In other words, Sonic needed a pick-me-up, and Inspire was there with a silver spatula to the rescue.

HOT TAKE: Arby’s is the most innovative chain in the drive thru

Think about it: How many other roast beef sandwich fast-food restaurants can you name? 1? maybe 2? If so, they’re surely regional.  

Yet, somehow, the mystery meat king tricked everyone into thinking its beef is “cool-different,” not “gross-different.” 

They also invented frappuccinos (AKA, Jamocha shakes) and rebranded horseradish to “horsey sauce” so that no one even stopped to ask, “Is this just horseradish with a better name?”

Oh, and their BBQ sauce, AKA Arby’s sauce? Eat our shorts, Sweet Baby Ray’s. 

RANT over.

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