America's First Sonic Location


Did you know that Stillwater is home to the very first Sonic Drive-In? That's right! Stillwater was the first to showcase the iconic Sonic name!

Here's how it happened: In 1958, Troy Smith was running a successful Top Hat drive-in restaurant in Shawnee, OK and had expanded to Woodward. He planned new locations in Stillwater and Enid as well. But when another restaurant trademarked the Top Hat name, Troy decided it was time for a change. He searched the dictionary, stumbled upon "Sonic," and loved the idea of “Service with the Speed of Sound.”


     Original Sonic Manager Gene Longworth in 1959
Original Sonic manager, Gene Longworth, at his location in Stillwater with the first Sonic sign.


Smith determined that the new Stillwater location would be the first to be branded as Sonic. He knew that he needed a great manager to launch this new restaurant and he turned to a friend and former coworker, Gene Longworth. Gene moved to Stillwater to open the new Sonic location in 1959 and it became the first to display the iconic sign. He managed the location for 13 years before becoming a franchisee himself. The first Sonic location in Stillwater features a statue of Gene Longworth to this day.


          First Sonic Manager Gene Longworth with Statue & Sign
Original Sonic manager, Gene Longworth, with a life-size statue of him and the first Sonic Drive In sign.


Today, the first Sonic location has been remodeled, but the original sign is still there, welcoming visitors and locals alike. Swing by for a refreshing drink with the best ice on the planet or an ice cream treat to cool down this summer. And don't forget to snap a photo with the historic sign!


First Sonic Location

A 1970s photo of the first location in America to be branded Sonic, with its original sign on the left.



Explore Stillwater's Rich History!