Category Archives: BBQ To The Rescue News

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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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.”


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!  


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!


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.


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.


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


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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Positively Tampa Bay – ABC TV

Franchise Owner of Palm Harbor, Largo, and New Port Richey spent some time with Lissette Campos and the crew from Positively Tampa Bay – ABC TV on Friday, 11/21/2014. Great time sharing with them about all the great things we are doing in the community.

For more pictures, check them out on Facebook!

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!


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!


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.


Wayne Shattuck from ABC News with Lisa Titen

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Our Social Media Rock Star!

Meet our Social Media Rock Star!

We wanted to take a minute and recognize Cathy Hall Andrasek as one of our Sonny’s BBQ To The Rescue Social Media Rock Stars!

Cathy is on the Sonny’s Team and is always interactive with our BBQ To The Rescue Facebook Page. She shares our posts and really shows that Sonny’s BBQ Love that we are so thankful for…So we wanted to take a few minutes yesterday to let her know how special she is to our team!

Thank you Cathy and thank you for sharing all the great things our team is doing for our communities.


BBQ Supports Those Who Give Back!

There is nothing we love more than sharing our support with those who give back to our community. This past Friday, 10/10/2014 we participated in the Boley House Dedication at Sunset Apartments for the opening celebration of their newest HUD 811 project.

These fourteen units of permanent supported housing are for individuals who have mental disabilities and very low income and were funded through the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development and the City of Clearwater. In attendance was the US Congressman David Jolly and Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos.

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We then visited the American Red Cross to show our support of their efforts in keeping high risk homes safe from fires. They were giving away free smoke detectors…what an awesome way of showing their support to local families to ensure that their smoke detectors are in working condition!

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Recognition Feels Good…

Here at BBQ To The Rescue we do what we do because it’s the right thing to do! We believe in helping our community and letting those who show up every day and make a difference, that we appreciate them. Plain and simple.

So when we get recognized for our part in helping the community…it feels really good. Not only does it feel good for us, but it lets our staff know that our efforts in making a difference and paying it forward are what it’s all about.

We got this letter from the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office and we wanted to share it with you; not just with our fans but with our staff at the Sonny’s BBQ in Palm Harbor, Largo, and New Port Richey locations. Because this letter is to our staff – it’s to those folks who help us make BBQ To The Rescue a reality!

We are proud of all our family at Sonny’s and the help they give us on the truck so we can make these Random Acts of BBQ a reality!

Thank you Sheriff Chris Nocco for your kindness and generosity! We appreciate you!