This is an encore presentation of Stephanie Riegel’s conversation with fast food impresario Ted Kergan. We decided to unearth this episode and run it again because Mr. Kergan is one fascinating guy. In 2018 when we recorded this conversation, Ted was the largest franchisee of Sonic drive in restaurants in the state of Louisiana. He owned 58 Sonic locations in the central and southern part of the state.
When you think about how much can go wrong day-to-day in any single workplace – especially in a fast food restaurant where people unexpectedly don’t show up for shifts, machinery breaks, and, by the very nature of the business, customers demand immediate service and almost always know exactly what the product is supposed to taste like – owning 57 of these establishments sounds like an impossible task. Well, how about owning 150? That’s the total number of Sonic restaurants Ted developed in his more than 40 year career.
Ted Kergan is originally from Detroit. When he made his way down South, Ted was in Alexandria in 1977 when his brother talked him into joining him in the fast food biz and began his career as a managing partner in a Sonic restaurant. Ted eventually became a partner in the operation with his brother, the late Gary Kergan, who was murdered in 1984.
Anyone who has been around Baton Rouge for a number of years know that Ted played a key role in solving the high profile crime and bringing Gary’s killers to justice, though not until nearly 30 years had passed. His tale of detective tenacity became a book, My Brother’s Keeper, which Ted helped write along with Chris Russo Blackwood.
While pursuing justice in this case and in the process “consuming a fortune” tracing his brother’s killers from New Orleans’ French Quarter across the country to Las Vegas, Ted was growing his company. Ted Kergan and his Sonic empire have been recognized as one of the top franchise outlets in the country.
You’ll see why we pulled this show out of the archives: it’s frank look into the life and business of one of Louisiana s most successful businessmen. This conversation was recorded live over lunch at Mansurs on the Boulevard in Baton Rouge.