Local Pitmasters Since '68

In 1968, we were just a local BBQ joint in Gainesville, Florida. Today, we’re still a local BBQ joint. We just happen to be in a few more locations. But we still do things the same way Floyd "Sonny" Tillman and his wife, Lucille, did back then. We still slow-smoke over oak for up to 12 hours at a time. We still serve generous portions. And we still believe people should be able to go out to eat and feel right at home.

  • Sonny’s Starts Smokin'

    Floyd "Sonny" Tillman and his wife, Lucille, opened Sonny’s BBQ on Waldo Road in Gainesville, Florida, to serve slow-smoked, real Southern BBQ to family and friends. They quickly made a lot of new friends.

  • First Franchised Location Opens

    The popularity of Sonny’s delicious BBQ was spreading quicker than sauce on a smoked hog. So Sonny decided it was time to franchise. John Kirkpatrick was the first franchisee in, Ocala, Florida.


  • Bob Buys In

    Bob Yarmuth, current Sonny’s CEO and owner, bought his first franchise.

  • 25 Restaurants & Countin'

  • 50th Location Opens

  • New Sheriff in Town

    Then franchisee Bob Yarmuth, and his cousin Jeff Yarmuth, purchase the Sonny’s chain from Sonny Tillman.

  • Hey Baby, Where you Been?

    We officially introduced Baby Back Ribs to our menu. After they sold like wildfire, we spent the next couple years kickin’ ourselves for not servin’ ‘em sooner.

  • Triple Digits- 100 Restaurants!