About Us

Slow smokin' in a fast-paced world.

'68 State of mind

Here, 1968 isn’t just a year. It’s the principles we were founded on and still live by today. It’s being passionate about BBQ and respecting time-honored traditions. It’s constantly perfecting our craft and bringing that expertise to the table with every meal. It’s putting others first and making sure when people come here, they feel right at home.

Local Pitmasters. Always have been. Always will be.


We started as a local BBQ joint in 1968. Today, we’re still a local BBQ joint. We’re just in a few more locations. 

But we still do things the same as we did back then. From smokin’ over oak to servin’ plate-coverin’ portions, some things will never change. And that’s just how we like it.

1968


Floyd “Sonny” Tillman and his wife, Lucille, set up shop in Gainesville, Florida, to serve slow-smoked BBQ with a generous helping of Southern hospitality.

1977


The popularity of Sonny’s BBQ spread and John Kirkpatrick becomes our first franchisee.

1980


Bob Yarmuth, current Sonny’s CEO and BBQ advocate, buys his first Sonny’s restaurant.

1981


25 restaurants and countin’.

1985


We open our 50th restaurant much to the delight of BBQ fans in Winter Haven, Florida.

1991


The ownership torch is passed as our founder, Sonny Tillman, sells his BBQ chain to Bob Yarmuth.

1998


With the opening of our 100th restaurant, we officially operate in eight Southeastern states.

2013


We refreshed our brand to update our look and put the focus back on our craft—slow-smoked-to-perfection BBQ and the Pitmasters who make it.

2014


We started the Random Acts of BBQ initiative to help the spirit of BBQ by rewarding people who do good in their community with a surprise BBQ feast. Know someone worthy? Nominate them right now.

2015


We opened our finest BBQ shack to date. An all-new restaurant built from the ground up on Archer Road in Gainesville, Florida. It’s a work of BBQ art. A pitmasterpiece, if you will.

2017


As the popularity of our BBQ keeps growing, we’re going to keep opening new BBQ joints in more locations. Want to be a part of our success story? Consider working with us or becoming a franchisee at OwnaSonnys.com.

More than meats the eye.


What goes on outside of our smokers and restaurants is equally impressive as what happens in ‘em. Learn more about what gets us fired up at BBQ Central, your source for all things Sonny’s.

Visit BBQ Central

Spreadin' the spirit of BBQ.


We’re on a mission to spread the spirit of BBQ every chance we get. One way we do this is through our Random Acts of BBQ initiative where we throw surprise BBQ feasts for people we do good deeds.

Learn More

Fired-UpFuture.


With the popularity of our BBQ continuing to grow, our future’s lookin’ mighty bright. And you can help steer our success.

Franchise Opportunities

Don't just eat here. Work here.


Workin’ at Sonny’s has all kinds of benefits beyond just great BBQ.

Career Opportunities