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Will Sonic Help Lead To Revival In Uptown?

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Typically, a ground-breaking for a fast food restaurant, would not merit a mention on a newscast.

But the location for a new Sonic Restaurant,  on Wilson near Sheridan, in the Uptown neighborhood is important because it is a corner known for crime.

It was the scene of a recent violent mass shooting, but the area will soon see roller-skating carhops in what will be the first Sonic in Chicago.

As CBS 2 Jim Williams reports, there is hope that skates, shakes and burgers will lead to a neighborhood revival.

“We are so excited about the opportunity to be in Uptown,” said Sonic franchisee Seth Wolken. 

Sonic is planning to build its first restaurant within the city limits, after what they call careful consideration.

“When we looked at this site and looked at the numbers, we felt this would be a great opportunity for us.”

A great opportunity, they believe, despite recent gang violence, including a mass shooting just two months ago that left several people wounded.

Uptown hopes to duplicate what’s been done 10 blocks north on Bryn Mawr.

There was a time when that street was in trouble. Then, 13 years ago, a Francesca’s restaurant opened.

That helped spark a revival on Bryn Mawr, which now has several restaurants and a Starbucks.

Mary Ann Smith, former alderman for the neighborhood, said: “Having Francesca’s on the street made all the difference. Starbucks wouldn’t even talk to us until Francesca’s came onto the street.”

Sonic may be a fast-food restaurant, but leaders in Uptown are happy to have it on Wilson.

“It shows people that it’s the smart thing to do; there are exciting things happening here,” said Alyssa Berman-Cutler of the group Uptown United. 

The restaurant is expected to open early next year,  with a double-decker drive-thru and nine stalls for curbside service.

But community leaders want lots of foot traffic.

Ald. James Cappleman said since Target opened a couple of blocks away, crime has dropped there.