Change is in the air on Archer Road, and it smells like oak-smoked barbeque.
After seven months of construction, Sonny’s BBQ, located at 3635 SW Archer Road, reopened March 16 in a new building.
The new restaurant now sits slightly closer to the road, with a larger sign outfitted with the new logo. The old building is gone, and in its place is the parking lot.
Sonny’s BBQ first opened in Gainesville in 1968, where it was founded by Floyd “Sonny” Tillman. With the rebranding, Coy Joyner, an assistant general manager of the Archer Road location, said he wants to continue offering the good food and service its guests have come to expect.
The white brick walls at the new Sonny’s BBQ are stacked to the ceiling with oak logs. Sheets of metal line the counter, and the oak wood smoker, which used to be back in the kitchen, is now one of the first things customers see.
Joyner said they redesigned around putting the smoker near the front.
“We want everyone to see that we’re cooking fresh,” he said.
Outside, picnic tables line the front porch of the building. Large, garage-like doors with windows connect the dining area to the porch.
Margaret Kennard, 74, and Nancy Sanders, 47, have met for lunch at the Archer Road location every Wednesday for the past four years.
Kennard, who has been going to Sonny’s for about 20 years, said she enjoys it because it has always been packed with familiar faces.
However, she said she isn’t a fan of the change.
“It doesn’t have the old Sonny’s feel that we remember,” she said. “But we’re trying to adjust.”
[A version of this story ran on page 4 on 3/26/2015 under the headline “Local Sonny’s gets makeover as part of company’s rebrand”]
Coy Joyner, assistant general manager, opens one of the barbecue smokers at Sonny’s BBQ on 3635 SW Archer Road. The restaurant’s new building emphasizes the oak wood smokers, putting them in full view of guests.