An order with a chili cheese hot dog, "Blast," fries...

An order with a chili cheese hot dog, "Blast," fries and drinks rests on a table at the Sonic in North Babylon. (April 25, 2011) Credit: Ed Betz

A Sonic Drive-In fast-food restaurant is looking at opening in East Meadow as the franchise continues scouting around Long Island for new sites.

The 1950s-style national chain is seeking authorization from the Hempstead Town board of appeals to install drive-through windows, outdoor dining and two dozen outdoor menu signs, and a variance for off-street parking at the site of the former Rita's Italian Ice near Hempstead Turnpike and East Meadow Avenue. It hopes to open the franchise late this year or in early 2013.

The board will hold a public hearing Wednesday at 2 p.m. at the meeting pavilion next to Town Hall.

"We hope that the East Meadow community will welcome us," said Drew Ritger, senior vice president of business planning and purchasing for the Oklahoma City-based franchise. Its trademark is roller-skating servers who deliver food to customers' cars. There are more than 3,500 Sonics nationally; the company's first Long Island location opened in April on Deer Park Avenue in North Babylon.

"In the next five years or so, you will see more Sonics on Long Island," Ritger said. "Long Island is an area that is very family oriented and has very tight-knit communities. Sonic has done very well in those communities."

North Babylon residents initially complained about noise, trash and traffic. Sonic placed workers at nearby streets to help control traffic and had others pick up trash.

"It was like a carnival for the first few days," said Louise Pluchinotta, 83, of North Babylon, adding that the situation has improved. "The cars are not piled up . . . and the streets are cleaned. Everything worked out all right."

Traffic is usually a short-term issue, Ritger said, adding Sonic has a plan for East Meadow.

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