Anticipation and interest are building in the lead up to the annual Sonny’s Real Pit Bar-B-Q Summer Convention, where company executives will unveil details of a brand refresh for the iconic barbecue restaurant.
Approximately 600 franchisees, vendors and corporate employees are expected to attend the convention July 15-17 at the upscale Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate.
For nearly two years, Sonny’s Franchise Co. has researched and planned changes to the venerable restaurant chain, which boasts 125 locations in nine states. Part of the changes includes hiring new COO Brandon Manly and Marketing Vice President Dominic Losacco, two restaurant-industry veterans with track records for innovation.
The pair will oversee a brand update designed to capture the evolving barbecue culture through changes in restaurant design, menu and décor. One of the changes announced earlier this year is the creation of a Sonny’s competition barbecue team led by Manly. The team took a 2nd place in brisket in its first national barbecue competition hosted in Central Florida earlier this year.
“We want to thank our franchisees and corporate staff for their help and patience as we work to find the best ways to provide the best barbecue experience,” said CEO Bob Yarmuth. “We will be unveiling some great ideas that will enhance our offerings and excite and expand our customer base. Next week is going to be a lot of fun.”
Sonny’s has hired two nationally respected firms to lead and promote the brand refresh.
Orlando-based PUSH will provide creative and social media services for Sonny’s and has played a critical role in the highly anticipated refresh for the 45-year-old brand.
PUSH, founded in 1996, brings a holistic approach to brand management by examining the impact of a company on its customers through image, atmosphere, product and expertise. PUSH counts major entertainment venues such as Disney and Universal Studios among its clients as well as other high-profile restaurant chains such as Smokey Bones and Tijuana Flats.
Florida-based CBR Strategic Communications will manage media outreach to bring the Sonny’s story to the national stage as well as promote local franchisees in their home markets. CBR is a strategic media relations firm founded in 1984 with significant experience working with food industry, restaurant and franchise clients including McDonald’s, Publix, Winn-Dixie and The Loop Pizza Grill.
“We have partnered with some amazing professionals who will help us rejuvenate the Sonny’s brand,” Yarmuth said. “Sonny’s is committed to living and sharing the true barbecue culture with our customers, and the changes we are making will only serve to enhance that.”
With 125 locations throughout the southeast, Sonny’s Real Pit Bar-B-Q is one of the largest and most popular barbecue restaurant companies in the country. Headquartered in Winter Park, Fla., the restaurants employ more than 6,700 people. Sonny’s was founded in 1968 in Gainesville, Fla. by Floyd “Sonny” Tillman. Just as it was then, today Sonny’s trademark is serving up great, slow-cooked food fast and friendly. In 1991, Robert Yarmuth, a longtime Sonny’s franchisee from Kentucky, purchased the Sonny’s chain and today serves as Sonny’s chairman and CEO.