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Investor Sardar Biglari buys stake in Sonic

Sardar Biglari, a well-known activist investor and the chief executive of Steak n Shake and Western Sizzlin, has disclosed a 5.9-percent stake in the struggling Sonic Corp.

The filing this week by Biglari, whose San Antonio-based Biglari Holdings Inc. owns the Steak n Shake and Western Sizzlin brands, follows a disclosure earlier this summer that he now holds a 6-percent stake in Red Robin Gourmet Burgers Inc.

Both investments were filed with federal regulators under a 13G schedule, indicating a passive position.

Oklahoma City-based Sonic has been focused on marketing and menu initiatives, such as the addition of Real Ice Cream and a Footlong Quarter Pound Coney, to reverse falling sales at its 3,500-unit drive-in chain. In its most recent quarter ended May 31, the company reported a 6-percent drop in same-store sales at corporate locations.

Biglari, one of Nation's Restaurant News' 2010 Golden Chain winners, has turned around declining sales and traffic at the 500-unit Steak n Shake since taking over the family-dining chain in 2008.

He assumed leadership at Steak n Shake after building up a stake in the company and waging a successful proxy battle that forced out the chairman and another director. Through his investment arms, he has also taken past positions in the parent companies to Friendly’s and Applebee’s.

Contact Molly Gise at [email protected].

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