Welcome to #HOMETOWNHUSTLE – a SweetwaterNOW exclusive series where we highlight hardworking individuals in our community.
This week I had a chance to catch up with Paul Alvey. Paul is the owner and operator of the all-american fast food restaurant in Rock Springs, Sonic Drive-In.
Paul began his voyage of being a business owner in 2012 when he was brought to Rock Springs to manage the Sonic locations in both Rock Springs and Vernal, UT.
After a couple of years, Paul was offered by the previous owner to buy the Rock Springs Sonic in 2014 and with the help of a couple of people, Paul became the owner of the Rock Spring Sonic Drive-In.
“I was blessed to have a couple of friends and business partners that helped make this dream possible,” said Paul.
When Paul mentioned the opportunity to his good friend, Josh Sorensen, Owner and President of Mountain States Pressure Service, Inc. he was intrigued and brought on his friend Darren Casey of Green River and the three of them formed a business partnership and foundation for the business that has proven to be successful.
“Josh and Darren are my “silent” partners and they are the best! Great friends, great men, and the best business partners a guy could ask for.”
Along with working with some wonderful partners, Paul also enjoys the busy environment of a fast-food restaurant. But as with any business, there are always a few challenges to overcome.
One of the most common challenges Paul and his team face is keeping items in stock when sales are higher than expected – which is probably one the best problems to have as a business owner, but a challenge nonetheless.
When the team at Sonic is running low on supplies they put in the extra work to ensure their customers are happy. For example, Sonic onion rings are a local favorite and at times end up selling out.
“We make our onion rings in house, (which is why they are so good) so if we run out, we have to peel, slice, batter and bread the onion, batter the onion again, and then crumb the onion in “fast food” time,” explained Paul.
As far as handling the recent COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, Sonic has had to make some adjustments as all restaurants have. They have taken extra precautions to prevent the spread of the virus while still serving their customers. Each employee wears a mask, and gloves are changed more frequently, along with near-constant hand washing.
Dealing with the uncertainty that has come with the virus has been a challenge, but when worried customers asked Paul if the Rock Springs Sonic was going to remain open, he was happy to tell them over and over that they’d be open for as long as they were allowed to be.
“With all of the chaos going on, it is nice to know that Sonic brings comfort to the community.”
Sonic is no longer offering a dine-in option for customers, but they are still offering drive-in, take-out, and drive-thru services.
When I asked Paul about what he enjoys most about being a business owner, he told me it was like asking him which child is his favorite (he has six by the way).
“Being a business owner comes with many perks. I am able to write my own schedule, so if I need to take time off to watch the kids while my wife teaches piano, I can. And I’m able to go out with my son’s Boy Scout Troop,” said Paul.
But the perks of owning a business do come with a cross to bear. Being a business owner is rarely a 9-5 gig.
“There are times when I plan to be away but if there’s an emergency at Sonic I usually have to drop everything and go take care of the business,” explained Paul. “In those instances, my lovely wife, BreAnn ask, ‘Is the 7th child acting up?’”
SONIC DRIVE-IN IN 3 WORDS
Aim to please.
Paul did mention his absolute favorite perk of being a business owner, and that is, working with, serving, and getting to know the people of Sweetwater County.
“My employees are awesome, and our customers are the best. We are so blessed to serve some of the best and brightest of this community.” said Paul. “I’ve had religious, philosophical, and ethical discussions with regular customers from time to time and enjoy building that rapport with others.”
“I want to say thank you to the communities of Sweetwater County. It has been a great six years and we hope to be here another 60. We have loved our time here. Anytime our family is headed back to Wyoming from an out of state trip and we see the ‘Wyoming: Forever West’ sign, my wife and I let out a huge sigh of relief to be home.
Thank you for being awesome and thank you for giving us the chance to serve you!”
Paul would also like to offer a few words of advice for aspiring business owners and managers.
“Go for it. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. People often ask me how it is owning a fast food restaurant and I tell them it’s like having 3 kids. It can be super fun! But it also is a lot of work. So be willing to put in the necessary time to build up a reputable business.“