Sonny’s Real Pit Bar-B-Q

University of Florida

Now you will understand why our 1st choice favorite is so TOTALLY AWESOME: THEY HAD TO BEAT SONNY’s!!! While coming in 2nd place as a favorite, SONNY’s probably, actually, is the quintessence of “FLORIDA BBQ”. Founded in 1968 in Gainesville FL by Floyd “Sonny” Tillman and his wife Lucille, with venture capital from his cousin, Jesse Keller –who already had the FAT BOY’S BAR-B-Q chain in Cocoa FL in operation-- SONNY’s is definitely the most recognized name in barbecue throughout Florida. Nowadays, it is a regional franchise business located in 9, mostly southeastern states and sports 127 restaurants. Cousin Jesse dissolved the FAT BOY’s chain some time ago, though you will still find them scattered across Central Florida. This has made SONNY’s the barbeque establishment in the region against which each new non-SONNY’s store that pops-up, is measured. For years, there were only a few BBQ stands & trailers in North and Central Florida with SONNY’s being the rare sit-down restaurant. The Gainesville & Alachua County area SONNY’s are “the originals”, with the one on NE Waldo Road being the first. And though Sonny is semi-retired from work for the SONNY’s Franchise Corporation (he sold the business to the Yarmuth brothers of Maitland FL in 1991), he is still featured as “the familiar voice & face of SONNY’s BAR-B-Q” in radio and TV ads and, being the Bull Gator that he is, during University of Florida GATOR Football game sports’ broadcasts. He still exercises part ownership in several of the Alachua County SONNY’s restaurants; one, located in Hawthorne FL and owned by his daughter, Diane, recently had to change its name to DIANE’S OLD TIME BARBECUE. They had served breakfast at that location for many years but, it was the only SONNY’s doing so. They wanted to continue the breakfast service but, it didn’t quite jive with the Yarmuth Brother’s notion that all SONNY’s should be consistent; thus, breakfast is still served at DIANE’s and, in all else, the Yarmuths have faithfully continued the Tillman tradition of consistently providing some of the best and most succulent barbecue and salad bars in Florida.
less than 5 miles
2700 NE Waldo Rd Gainesville, FL 32609-3323
Sun-Thu 10:45am-9:35pm; Fri-Sat 10:45am-10:05pm
Takes CC?
Outdoor Seating?
Outdoor Seating Feature:
Parking Tips
Easy to park
Wheelchair Access?
Wheelchair Tips
$$ (most entrees $5-$10)
Type of BBQ (meat)
Pork Beef Chicken Sliced Turkey
Vegetarian Options?
Yes, you aren't limited to Slaw
Vegetarian Tips
Big salad bar and veggie-friendly side items
Type of Sauce
Alcohol Served
Recomended BBQ
Recomended Sides:
Brunswick stew Brunswick Stew; Garlic Bread; Fried Okra