Sonny's BBQ Company Overview
Sonny's BBQ was founded in 1968 and has over 100 restaurants in the United States. Peter Frey is the Chief Brand Officer at Sonny's BBQ and Push is the agency on record for advertising. A deeper five of our findings have been presented below.
- Sonny's BBQ was started by Floyd "Sonny" Tillman and his wife Lucille in 1968 in Gainesville, Florida. Tillman believed that his slow-smoked BBQ recipe was great and that people would love as much as he did -- he was right. He moved to Gainesville, Florida with $1,800 in his pocket and "a dream to own the best BBQ place in town".
- By 1977, Sonny's BBQ had become hugely popular and opened its first franchise. In 1980, Bob Yarmuth, the present CEO of Sonny's BBQ, bought his first Sonny's BBQ restaurant. The number of Sonny's BBQ restaurants grew to 25 by 1981 and 50 by 1985.
- Bob Yarmuth bought Sonny's BBQ from the Tillman's in 1991. Sonny's BBQ grew to 100 restaurants by 1998 and 143 (in seven southern states) by 2002. However, by 2015 the number of restaurants reduced to 122 and in 2018 there were only 101 of them.
- The Steps to starting Sonny's BBQ franchise:
- Step 1: Applicants need to submit the online franchise inquiry form that will contain "general contact information, base-level financial qualifications, desired locations and reason for choosing Sonny's BBQ".
- Step 2: On receiving the inquiry, Sonny's BBQ calls the applicant for an introduction.
- Step 3: If the applicant is found to be a good fit to be a franchise, Sonny's BBQ sends franchise application forms to the applicant, which then undergo formal review.
- Step 4: Upon reviewing the application, Sonny's BBQ arranges for an in-person meeting with the senior management.
- Step 5: After meeting with the leadership team and finalizing the contracts and financials, the applicant can initiate the process of opening the restaurant.
- A one-time licensing fee of $35,000 is required to open Sonny's BBQ franchise. A royalty fee of 4.5% on the annual sales of a franchise is applicable, and 2% of the annual fee is payable towards system-wide marketing initiatives.
- An initial investment of $648,500-$1,770,000 is required to open a Sonny's BBQ franchise.
- As of 2018, there were 101 Sonny's BBQ locations in the United States (in eight southern states).
- Sonny's BBQ is not authorized to open franchises in 15 states: CA, HI, IN, IL, MI, MN, ND, NV, NY, RI, SD, TX, UT, WA, WI.
- For franchise-related inquiries, the company can be contacted on 407-660-8888 or franchise@SonnysBBQ.com or via the Request Information form.
- Bob Yarmuth is the CEO of Sonny's BBQ. He did his bachelors at the University of Michigan and obtained his Juris Doctor from the University of Louisville. He became Sonny's BBQ franchise in 1980 and purchased the company from Sonny Tillman in 1991; he has been the CEO of the company since the time he purchased the company.
- Peter Frey has been the Chief Brand Officer (the equivalent of CMO) at Sonny's BBQ since May 2019. He did his bachelors in Mass Communication from the University of Florida, an MBA from Stetson University, a certification in Essentials of Marketing from Wharton, and a certification in Leadership Excellence from Rollins College. Prior to Sonny's BBQ, he worked as VP of Marketing, Vacations at Apple Leisure Group; VP of Operations, Discovery Cove at SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment; Director of Marketing, Red Lobster, Darden; and Media Planning Supervisor at Saatchi & Saatchi.
- Joe Tenczar is the Chief Information Officer at Sonny's BBQ and also leads finance, accounting, and purchase at the company. He studied Telecommunications and Computer Science at the University of Florida and did an MBA from Crummer Business School at Rollins College. He is focused on emerging technologies in hospitality and understanding the technology needs of the industry.
- Christie Schatz is the VP of Operations and Culture at Sonny's BBQ. She obtained a "Master’s in Instructional Systems and Learning Technologies, with an emphasis on Human Performance" from Florida State University and has been with the company since 2001. She has lead the human resource and operations teams at Sonny's BBQ and has been instrumental in "organizational performance and franchise relations".
Agency on Record
- Push is the advertising agency on record for Sonny's BBQ.
- Multiple Sonny's BBQ creatives can be found here and on the Push website.
- Multiple digital banner advertisements of Sonny's BBQ can be found here.
- Sachs Media is the public relations agency on record for Sonny's BBQ.
- The first-ever ASMR video released by Sonny's BBQ can be found here.