The slushies and skating carhops at Sonic Corp.'s drive-ins are a relative rarity in Los Angeles County, where 12 scattered units are overwhelmed by hundreds of McDonald's and dozens of Burger Kings.
But Sonic, based in Oklahoma City, hopes to become a major player in Southern California, home to quick-service rivals such as Carl's Jr., Wienerschnitzel and Fatburger.
By 2020, the company — and its popular Cherry Limeade, tater tots and chewable ice — plans to have 300 California units up and running. The chain has opened 60 restaurants in California in the 24 years it has been in the state.
Expansion in Los Angeles, a city ever-hungry for the next hot fad,...