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Sonic Drive-In is coming to the Buffalo Niagara region.

The nation’s largest chain of drive-in restaurants said Monday it plans to open eight new restaurants in Erie and Niagara counties, with the first expected to begin serving customers in the spring of 2015.

The local drive-ins will be operated by Kevin DiPirro, who operates four local Moe’s Southwest Grill restaurants, along with Cinnabon and Auntie Anne’s Pretzels sites in the region.

“We’ve been in the restaurant business in upstate New York for years and know Sonic would be a welcome and one-of-a-kind offering within this market,” DiPirro said.

The sites for the local Sonics have not been selected.

The chain’s push into the Buffalo Niagara region comes seven months after Sonic announced it would open six drive-ins in the Rochester area over the next four years. Sonic currently has five drive-ins in New York State.

“This agreement for eight new drive-ins in Buffalo introduces Sonic to a new, eager community and represents another step forward toward expanding our already growing footprint in the region,” said Bob Franke, Sonic’s senior vice president of franchise sales and international development.

The drive-ins in the Buffalo Niagara region will feature an enclosed dining area, which will give customers a choice of eating at a table inside or in their cars. The enclosed dining area is part of a prototype design that is being tested by Sonic and some of its franchise operators as a way to offer more options for customers as the chain expands into cooler – and snowier – parts of the country. During the summer, the dining area can be opened up to serve as a patio.

Sonic, which is featured in national commercials that have aired for years in the local market, operates more than 3,500 drive-ins in the country.

email: drobinson@buffnews.com