CLIFTON PARK — It appears a Sonic restaurant is not moving into the Town Plaza as it had planned.
"For rent" signs are now on display in the windows of space that Sonic was slated to move into and the property is listed on DCG's website as an available space that can host either a retail or restaurant operation.
The move comes following a ruling in June by a state Supreme Court judge in Saratoga County. The judge upheld Clifton Park-based DCG Development's lease termination with fast-food chain Sonic, which was attempting to open a drive-in restaurant in the Town Plaza on Route 146.
A June 20 decision from Judge Thomas Buchanan found Sonic franchisee Fast Eats Clifton Park and its owner, Gene Nachamkin, to be in breach of the lease contract, after the company failed to design and install improvements needed before the restaurant could open, including an underground stormwater management system.
Buchanan also ordered Sonic to pay an unspecified amount of damages to DCG, though in the original lawsuit filed by the company, DCG sought to retain the first few months of Sonic’s rent for the space, as well as the chain's security deposit, which amounted to $21,333.32.
The path to opening the restaurant had been bumpy and filled with delays since the project's start; progress came to a complete halt in 2018.
After a lengthy review process, centered specifically on how the drive-in could be worked into the space, the Clifton Park Planning Board granted final approval to the project in June 2018. However, after its site plans were approved, progress seemed to stop.
After being sued by DCG in December of 2018 for breaching the lease, the fast-food chain filed a lawsuit of its own, claiming the property owners violated a lease agreement.
According to DCG, the septic system that Sonic was to pay for was never designed, despite numerous attempts to contact Sonic.
Sonic’s failure to build the system was a direct violation of its lease agreement with DCG, said Paul Goldman, the property owner's lawyer, in the lawsuit.
Sonic then contested all claims made in the DCG suit and argued that DCG, according to the lease agreement, was supposed to design and pay for the stormwater improvements.
The fast-food company claimed that DCG promised from the start to conduct all necessary work on the property.
Sonic’s suit went on to say DCG retained an architect to design the stormwater management system. When DCG was informed of the costs to build the system, about two months after the lease was signed in April, the company allegedly demanded Sonic pay for it.
Sonic also denied a stormwater management system was necessary for the restaurant.
The drive-in chain was aiming for a fall 2019 opening for the 3,700-square-foot restaurant. Had it met its opening goal, the Clifton Park location would have been the fast-food chain's third location in the Capital Region.
Sonic has since gone on to start work on an Albany location on Route 9W, which is slated to open in August.
However, Sonic representatives said that they are not necessarily giving up on opening a location in town.
"At this time, we are still evaluating our options for our Clifton Park location," Nachamkin said in a statement. " We believe that this is a great community for us to be in and we are looking forward to opening a store in Clifton Park as soon as possible."