Business

Developer still hopes to lure Sonic to Riverhead

If it’s built, will Sonic come? 

That’s the question a Route 58 developer is hoping to get answered in the affirmative.

Inheritance Development Co, LLC, the St. James-based company that owns the 1.8-acre property across from Apple Honda, had previously sought Riverhead Town approval to locate a Sonic Drive-in restaurant on that site. Those plans go back as far as 2014. 

But in November 2020, former Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter, representing the applicant as a private attorney, told the Town Board that Sonic was no longer part of the application, but that they were trying to lure them back. Mr. Walter is now a town justice and no longer representing that applicant. 

“The applicant is proposing a drive-in restaurant,” said town Planner Greg Bergman. 

“In previous iterations in the lifespan of this project, they were proposing a Sonic,” he said. “I understand that the applicants right now do not have the Sonic tenant secured, but they’re hoping to move the application along in the hopes of luring them back.”

Mr. Walter had told the Town Board in 2020 that the applicant would not build the restaurant if Sonic was not involved. 

The Town Board has scheduled a Dec. 7 public hearing on Inheritance Development’s proposed special permit application for a drive-in restaurant and retail store on the vacant property on the north side of Route 58, and located in the Business Center zone, which requires a special permit for the drive-in window. That meeting starts at 2 p.m. 

The retail store is located on a separate part of the 1.8 acres and was part of previous applications, as well. At previous public hearings on the Sonic proposal, some concerns were raised about its impact on traffic and on the adjacent Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance barn, particularly when the restaurant first opens and potentially draws large crowds.