Winner of the 1st Responder Contest!

Fire Fighter William Westlund was our 1st Responder Winner. He won BBQ for a 100 of his friends in December of 2015!

William shared his winnings with his brother and sister Fire Fighters in Pinellas County. Sonny’s and the BBQ to the Rescue turck feed Fire Stations 1,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14.

All of the Firefighters we’re the most gracious people. They invited Tara to suit up and join them in firefighting and driving the latter truck.

WDAE our partner in this event was represented by Ronnie “Night Train” Lane. Ronnie also took a turn a driving the latter truck. Sonny’s BBQ and WDAE love our first responders and appeciate all they do for the community.

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On The Air With WDAE

Sonny’s Franchise Owner, Edward (Eddie) Titen loves helping people and nothing shows it more than the smile on his face!

Today Eddie hung out with the guys from WDAE while promoting the new Sonny’s BBQ / BBQ To The Rescue First Responder Program! Eddie doesn’t miss a chance to let the First Responders in the Tampa Bay communities know how much he and his team appreciate them.

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You can catch the BBQ To The Rescue Truck visiting hospitals, fire stations, police stations, etc. He loves feeding them his delicious Sonny’s BBQ – and telling them how awesome they are!

Sonny’s BBQ is sharing the love with a contest! That’s right…click on the link below and nominate your favorite First Responder!

Listen to the WDAE Radio Spot!

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WDAE Sonny’s BBQ To The Rescue Contest

Sonny’s BBQ and 620 WDAE are proud team up to honor & recognize some of the BEST First Responder’s (Police, Fire & EMT) in Tampa Bay! 

There are a lot of great men & women in the Bay area who risk their lives daily to keep all of us safe, but it’s also the things we don’t see or hear every day that could have positively changed someones life or have had a positive impact on their community. We want to know who they are!

You can take part by nominating a First Responder in our area who you believe deserves to be recognized. One lucky nominee will receive a BBQ Catered Party for up to 100 people from Sonny’s & 620 EDAE for their entire unit at their headquarters or neighborhood!

But that’s not all! If your nominee is selected, you will receive a $50 Sonny’s Gift Card for taking the time to nominate that special person in our community.

Sonny’s believes in honoring the BEST and appreciates the dedication of the First Responders and all they do to keep us safe. So let us know why we should recognize YOUR nominee!

To nominate your First Responder – Click Here To Get Started!
DATES OF CONTEST: Contest will begin on Monday, September 14, 2015 at 5AM ET and ends at
11:59:59 PM ET on January 16, 2016. The entry period for the contest will begin at 5:00AM EDT 
and ends Thursday, January 14, 2016 at 11:59:59 PM EDT (“Entry Period”)

Tarpon Springs High BBQ Sauce Competition

Sonny’s BBQ and BBQ to the Rescue – Held the First Annual Tarpon Springs High School (Jacobson Culinary Arts) BBQ Sauce Competition on September 25th, 2015. 

In memory of Ryan Wells and in honor of the students, staff, chefs and teachers at the Jacobson Culinary Arts Academy. 

Ryan Wells Foundation Tarpon Springs High, Sonny's BBQ, BBQ To The Rescue

Speical thanks to Chef Cathleen Ryan and Mike and Ashley Wells for helping to make this event such a success. We had 18 Teams of 3 compete. 

One Senior on each team with two underclassmen (UC). First Place Prize was $1000 for the Senior and $375 each for the UC. Second Place was $750 for the Senior and $250 each for the UC. Third Place was $500 for the Senior and $200 each for the UC. Fourth Place was $300 for the Senior and $75 each for the UC. 

The First Place and Second Place team were invited to work at the Palm Harbor Sonny’s to refine their recipes so we can enter one of them in a Flordia Bar B Q Assocation competition. 

In addition the first and second place teams will recieve another $750 each while working at Sonny’s. 

The level of team work, honesty, collaboration and respect shown by each team for each team member and there chefs and teachers make us proud to be assocaited with such a fine program.

Here are the first through fourth place winners in order! Congratulations to all who participated!

Tarpon Springs High First Place Winners, Sonny's BBQ, BBQ To The Rescue  Second Place Team, Tarpon Springs High, Sonnys BBQ, BBQ To The Rescue Third Place Team Tarpon Springs High, Sonnys BBQ, BBQ To The Rescue Fourth Place Team Tarpon Springs High, Sonnys BBQ, BBQ To The Rescue

Award Presentation & Judging

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Sauce Preparation

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Viewing Audience

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Pitmaster – A Passion for BBQ!

Being a pitmaster for Sonny’s isn’t just about having a title…it’s a whole lot more! It’s about having a passion for BBQ…it’s about being positive and caring about people.

It’s about paying attention to all the small details and knowing when there are problems and then working to identify the cause. It’s not just about being an expert in the Sonny’s BBQ culture…it’s about being an expert in the BBQ culture.

As you know BBQ To The Rescue is our local representation of Random Acts of BBQ by Sonny’s BBQ Headquarters. BBQ To The Rescue is the brainchild of Edward Titen, owner of the Palm Harbor, Largo, and New Port Richey Franchises. With the help of his team he was able to bring BBQ To The Rescue from concept to reality. It was his way of giving back to the communities that have supported him over the years. 

Edward, better known as Eddie to all who know and love him, is driven by a passion…not just for BBQ, but for all those that work with him daily in creating a culture that supports the communities where his franchise stores live. Eddie, his management team, and all those that work with Eddie work hard to give their customers that special Sonny’s BBQ experience.

He is very proud to have served as a team member on the Sonny’s 2015 Grand Champion Team under the phenomenal leader of Steve Lefkowitz. Eddie loves working and learning from his fellow pit masters and from all of his employees and team mates. Eddie often says, “If you listen to your fellow man/woman you can learn something new everyday; as every employee / team mate has a unique knowledge base which enables everyone to teach someone something new everyday.”

EDDIE TITEN

So it’s only fitting that 4 of the certified pitmasters are from Eddie’s franchise stores. It is our pleasure to share them here with you. Please help us congratulate these amazing men for all their hard work in becoming a certified pitmaster!  

STEVE LEFKOWITZ-3

Congratulations to Steve Lefkowitz, Palm Harbor, FL Sonny’s. Manager of Food Services and Equipment. Steve is our own Master Pitmaster who is passionate about making us all better pitmasters.

Steve is no stranger to BBQ – in fact, you may recognize him as the Grand Champion of our 2015 Sonny’s Annual Cook-Off! His high scores in both Ribs and Chicken earned his team this distinguished title. Steve has also competed in the Pigz in Zhills BBQ Competition, a Florida BBQ Association competition. Steve’s favorite part about competitions is the opportunity to talk with other BBQ enthusiasts and learn different techniques with smoking BBQ.

Steve has been a part of the Sonny’s family for over 30 years and is a great example of someone living our values every day. In fact, one of his favorite Sonny’s memories is when he participated in a rocking chair event to raise money for MDA and he rocked for 10 hours! What a great example of Putting Others First! 

Please join us in celebrating Steve’s official Sonny’s Pitmaster certification. Steve’s passion for BBQ, and his desire to serve quality products while creating a one-of-a-kind experience for our guests, are just a couple of the reasons we know he makes a great Pitmaster!

DEREK CODOL

Congratulations to Derek Codol, Manager at the New Port Richey, FL Sonny’s! Derek has completed the requirements to become a certified Sonny’s Pitmaster!

You may have seen Derek at the Sonny’s Rib Cook-off in 2014, and you can expect to see him again this year. He’s a member of the Rub Me Tender Twice Competition team. He is always looking for ways to improve his BBQ knowledge – through competitions, reading, or working with other Pitmasters. And Derek has a love for sharing his knowledge as well as acquiring more. In fact, he recently prepared and served a Porchetta, which anyone familiar with BBQ knows is an incredibly difficult endeavor.

Derek has been part of the Sonny’s family for over a decade – that’s more than 10 years of loving the brand! He enjoys interacting with his guests, and is especially fond of the times when he is able to teach them something they didn’t know about BBQ. He prides himself on looking at each piece of meat in his Smoker as a work of art and working to serve every guest an incredible meal.

Please join us in celebrating Derek’s official Sonny’s Pitmaster certification. We know that his passion for BBQ, coupled with his desire to continually grow his knowledge, will make his journey as a Pitmaster one to watch.

VINCENT SANTAMARINA

Congratulations to Vincent Santamarina, General Manager for the Largo, FL Sonny’s! Vincent has completed the requirements to become a certified Sonny’s Pitmaster!

You might recognize Vincent from the awards ceremony at our 2015 Sonny’s Cook-Off when his team claimed the 3rd Place trophy for Chicken. Vincent is a truly passionate Pitmaster – he loves our craft and is dedicated to learning as much as he can about BBQ and how he can improve the guest’s experience. He knows the food is just one part though; he also makes sure to interact with his guests as often as he can.

Vincent has been an important part of the Sonny’s team for over a decade. He loves our brand and especially loves being part of the changes that help our brand thrive. In fact, his favorite Sonny’s memory is being an integral part of the Palm Harbor remodel – from hiring to training and helping to introduce the changes to both team members and guests. He is a self-proclaimed “people-person.”

Please join us in celebrating Vincent’s official Sonny’s Pitmaster certification. Vincent isn’t one to be satisfied with the status quo, so we know he will continue to seek out the opportunities that will expand his BBQ knowledge and use it to help spread the spirit of BBQ in his community.

TANNER JESTER

Congratulations to Tanner Jester, Assistant Manager for the New Port Richey, FL Sonny’s! Tanner has completed the requirements to become a certified Sonny’s Pitmaster!

Tanner loves BBQ – and loves finding ways to elevate his own knowledge too. He competed in our recent Sonny’s Cook-off, and uses this event as a great opportunity to talk with other Pitmasters in the system. He also recently assisted in the preparation and presentation of a Porchetta, which for those of you who don’t know is when the body of the pig is gutted, deboned, and carefully arranged with layers of stuffing, meat, fat, and skin, then rolled, spitted, and smoked. In other words, a very difficult endeavor.

Tanner has been part of the Sonny’s family for nearly 5 years. He lovers the interaction he gets with guests during on-site Caterings – finding ways to laugh and joke with them, and to make those connections that will bring them into the restaurant as well as encourage them to continue to use our catering services. Tanner also likes to pay special attention to the Prep Cooks on his shifts since they are pivotal to the guest experience.

Please join us in celebrating Tanner’s official Sonny’s Pitmaster certification. Tanner’s desire to continually improve his BBQ knowledge, as well as to share it with his team and his guests, make his Pitmaster journey one to watch.

Congratulations to all of these guys for their accomplishments! We are all extremely proud of them and are proud to have them on the Eddie Titen Sonny’s BBQ Team!

Tampa Bay Lightning Charities

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We joined the Tampa Bay Lightning Charities on February 15, 2015 with the BBQ To The Rescue Truck to help raise money for the Lightning Charities.

“Hockey Day celebrates and puts the spotlight on our great game at every level we touch in the Tampa Bay area,” said Lightning executive director of community hockey development Jay Feaster. “From youth to high school to adult, from ice to street to sled hockey, literally every program our Community Hockey Department interacts with during the year will be on display at Hockey Day. The fact that all of the proceeds will go to charity makes it even more special, and we are looking forward to an incredible day of hockey.”

We provided pulled pork sandwiches and smoked chicken wings and raised almost $300 for the charity.

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3rd Annual Sonny’s Rib Cook Off

BBQ To The Rescue, Sonny's BBQ

The 3rd Annual Sonny’s Rib Cook Off was held on January 28th and oh boy did we have a blast! A little chilly but lots of fun!

There were 33 different Sonny’s locations that came out to participate this year!

There were two different categories: Chicken and Ribs. Have to admit that we kicked some BBQ butt!

  • Palm Harbor Sonny’s Store  – Took home 2nd place for Chicken
  • Largo Sonny’s Store – Took home 3rd place for Chicken
  • And our Palm Harbor Sonny’s Store took home Grand Champion for Overall Best Chicken & Ribs!

We are amazingly proud of our teams at our Palm Harbor, New Port Richey, and Largo Stores.

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Ribfest Festivities!

We hope you had a chance to hit the Ribfest festivities in St. Petersburg this year! It is always an awesome event, but this year we took the Sonny’s BBQ To The Rescue Truck to share some of that Sonny’s BBQ Love to the folks who love BBQ!

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Franchise Owner, Eddie Titen and Cole Swindell

Face it…people come for all over to eat the amazing ribs and hear the awesome country music that happens every year at this event. This year the Sonny’s BBQ Team from Palm Harbor, Largo, and New Port Richey showed up to help support the Sonny’s BBQ To The Rescue Truck and feed some amazing people!

We wanted to share some pics from the event!

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Lissette Campos from Positively TampaBay on ABC TV hanging out with us in the back of the house eating ribs and pulled pork with her family.

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Wayne Shattuck from ABC News with Lisa Titen

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