Sonny’s BBQ Announces Billy Brewer as Chief Operating Officer

Sonny’s BBQ, the mission-driven BBQ restaurant known for quality BBQ and spreading kindness in the communities they serve, today announced the promotion of Billy Brewer from Vice President of Operations to Chief Operating Officer (COO). Brewer brings more than 17 years of operations experience and leadership in the franchise restaurant industry and will work closely with Sonny’s Franchise Company leaders and franchisees to foster alignment on business processes and initiatives. 

“As we enter into an exciting period of growth and development for our brand, we’re thrilled to have Billy Brewer leading operations initiatives,” said Jamie Yarmuth, CEO of Sonny’s BBQ. “Billy has demonstrated impressive leadership capabilities, and he has a talent for making decisions that reflect the needs of everyone at the organization. We are certain that promoting a leader as authentic and passionate as Billy into this position will continue to lead to success for our brand and partners.”

“I’m humbled and beyond excited for this leadership opportunity at Sonny’s as we set our sights to the future of our brand,” said Billy Brewer, COO of Sonny’s BBQ. “From day one, I’ve seen myself as a  translator for the business: reflecting franchise and corporate desires to create strategic business plans that address all parties’ needs and challenges. I take pride in being able to align these groups in order to streamline processes and increase efficiency, all while building strong relationships.” 

Brewer recently celebrated 8 years with Sonny’s BBQ. His career began at the brand as an area director overseeing 10 corporate locations. After successfully running the stores for 18 months, Brewer took on a new role through the brand’s corporate headquarters that aligned with his strengths and expertise: a deep understanding of restaurant operations and the ability to establish system-wide operating processes that created efficiency and maximize growth potential. He established procedures to ensure consistency in food preparation across franchises to meet guest expectations while promoting individual restaurant identity among pitmasters and team members. Brewer was responsible for working with each franchisee to build a foundation for the company resting on the pillars of quality products and authentic company culture.

A Legacy in Hospitality

Brewer started his career in the food industry at Disney. After gaining foundational skills and an aptitude for hospitality, he went on to serve at Chili’s while accepting an additional job as a seasonal manager at Universal Studios. These opportunities led Brewer to become a manager and later an area director for the Chili’s corporation where he honed his management and leadership skills for 15 years. His dream was to work in operations, and when the Sonny’s BBQ opportunity presented itself, he knew he couldn’t pass on it. Brewer says that this is when he found a home at Sonny’s BBQ.

Brewer’s time at Sonny’s BBQ has yielded great results for the company. He launched Station 68, a central hub for Sonny’s BBQ team members to access company communication and resources, designed to maximize the use of technology within restaurants so team members can easily access training materials and store news from mobile devices in digestible formats including photos, diagrams and video. Station 68 is actively used across all restaurants. Since implementation, Sonny’s team members achieve an average of 85% completion rate on ongoing training materials and development.

Brewer was an integral member in the brand’s pandemic response that resulted in minor disruptions to service, ability to keep team members employed, and strength in sales across each Sonny’s location. A few key achievements during this time included rapidly developing a working curbside model in order to serve guests and keep team members safe.  Brewer leveraged his natural ability as an active listener through a consistent communication loop with franchisees and team members to quickly adapt and find solutions to team members’ and guests’ needs. Most notably, Brewer minimized cost, supply chain disruptions and impact to franchisees, team members and guests by his deep understanding of the importance of relationships in the purchasing and procurement process. 

Brewer’s Approach to COO

As noted, Brewer follows an active listening approach as a leader, knowing that fully understanding situations before making decisions is important to effectively supporting relationships, growth, and opportunities for his partners and team members. 

“I attribute many of my best leadership qualities to my grandfather who taught me to remain calm in situations and set the tone for others to do the same,” said Brewer. “I think of it using the metaphor of a duck on the pond: in any situation it is best to be calm above the water but working hard underneath and behind the scenes to ensure that situations are addressed quickly and effectively.” 

As COO, Brewer plans to develop new roles that allow employees direct pipelines for growth at the organization. His primary responsibility will be relationship management as he supports franchisees while continuing to hold restaurant locations accountable for quality and growth. As a compassionate leader, Brewer hopes that he can create a culture in which his team knows they have his complete trust and faith. As Sonny’s BBQ prepares to enter a new year, Brewer is excited to set new goals and help determine the direction that the organization is headed.