February 12, 2016

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On a payroll

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 6, 2003

Carhops at Sonic Drive-In may be skating their way back to a 1950s dining tradition, but they’re not doing it for a ’50s price.

Roller-skating carhops are making a minimum of $9 an hour delivering food orders on red trays to customers waiting in their cars at the Louisville Road restaurant.

“We’re willing to pay more to get the carhops that roller-skate,” said manager Christy King, who said the restaurant brought back the mid-20th century feature two weeks ago.

“There are some days they may average $20 an hour,” if the employees get big tips, said King. “Carhops that do skate make better tips than anybody else.” Walking carhops earn $5.15 an hour.

McDonald’s restaurant offers $5.50 an hour to new employees with limited availability and $6.50 to those with full availability. Jerry Yount, manager at the Versailles Road location, said employees are permitted to accept tips but, “I’ve only seen one tip given to a crew person in 17 years.”

But tips are common at Sonic. “I’d say every two out of three customers tip the carhops,” said King, who says Sonic is not a fast-food restaurant because every meal is made to order. “The carhops actually wait on the customers,” bringing condiments and checking back.

For more on this story, see the latest State Journal.