Sonny’s 50th anniversary

Fifty years of burgers and memories

Photo by Will Huang
Photo by Will Huang

This year marks the 50th anniversary for Sonny’s Drive-In, a restaurant familiar to many in Waterloo. Sonny’s was built in 1965 on Weber Street North, where it remains today in its original building.

Two brothers, Bob and George, bought Sonny’s in 1970. The restaurant remained family-owned and operated until 2009 when current owner Paul Moussis took over the decades-old establishment. Bob still works at Sonny’s, and according to Moussis, is a popular part of the restaurant.

“I recall when I first took over, the first couple Saturday nights that I worked people would be walking up to the door thinking maybe they were in the twilight zone because they never saw Bob. They would say, ‘What happened here, am I at Sonny’s?’ ” said Moussis. “He was always there.”

Sonny’s earned its popularity as a host for Waterloo’s teenagers, especially being the only restaurant in an area that once had both a high school and a roller skating rink.

“It was a pretty happening spot,” said Moussis. “A lot of older customers who come in would always talk about how when they were next door at the roller skating place, they would come down to Sonny’s.”

University students from the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University have also frequently visited Sonny’s throughout the years.

“I always hear that customers have been coming since they went to university,” said Moussis. “I get guys who graduated in 1970 coming in here to see Bob and George.”

Sonny’s still attracts a large customer base from the Waterloo area, with one day in particular being a standout. Known for its fish and chips, Sonny’s often garners a line that stretches down Weber St. on Good Friday.

“People come and they bump into the same people year in and year out, and to them it’s a tradition,” said Moussis. “No matter how long they wait, it’s the experience of coming to Sonny’s.”

These days, Sonny’s looks much the same as it did in 1965, except for a few modern additions like a television and a debit machine, and the large sign that sits on top of the building. For Moussis, the authenticity of Sonny’s is part of why he purchased the restaurant.

“I like the feel, that’s what I loved about Sonny’s when I bought it. I liked the mom and pop atmosphere,” said Moussis.

As for the future of the restaurant, Moussis said his aim is to introduce a new generation to Sonny’s and continue to remind Waterloo that the restaurant is still there.

“Today’s day and age with all the franchises, it’s pretty easy to forget about the little guys like us,” said Moussis. “We want to let people come in and experience an old school burger place.”






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