After 60-plus years of ownership, Dwight Van Dorn announced Wednesday that he is selling the Woodward Sonic to the parent company, Sonic Industries.
The transfer of ownership will happen in the next 30 to 45 days, the Van Dorn family said in a news release. Van Dorn told his staff of the sale Wednesday morning.
Dwight Van Dorn started his drive-in career when the restaurant at 19th and Oklahoma was known as the Top Hat Drive-In. Van Dorn's father-in-law, Charles Pappe, was the owner.
In 1958 the Top Hat became the Sonic Drive-In - the home of Service with the Speed of Sound.
In those days, Van Dorn noted that a hamburger was 35 cents, French fries were 15 cents and a medium drink 20 cents.
In 1964, Van Dorn bought the Sonic from his father-in-law and combined with the Sonic in Enid started the meteoric rise of Dwight and the Van Dorn families' star.
A true family operation, for the last few years the Woodward Sonic has been operated by Dwight's grandson, Aaron Van Dorn. The drive-in has been among the top 10 in volume for the entire chain for several years and the top volume driver in Oklahoma even longer, said the Van Dorn family.
Van Dorn said he is excited about the new vision Sonic Industries will bring to Woodward and feels confident that the company will continue the customer focus and quality of food the Van Dorn's have offered for years.
"I am grateful to the town of Woodward and to all the people who have been faithful customers over these many years," Van Dorn said in a news release. "Each of the smiles and handshakes and the gratitude the Van Dorn's have received have been appreciated and never taken for granted."
Van Dorn specifically mentioned his first three carhops, Claira Rosendale, Sylvia Rosendale and JoAnn Icke.
Van Dorn also wants to thank Lillie May Jones and Lola Mae Barker, his early assistant managers.
"I will continue to hold you, our dear customers and friends each in prayers of thanksgiving and will never forget the blessings you represented to the Van Dorn family. Thank you Woodward for everything," Van Dorn said.