This restaurant has been in the community since the 80s and has withstood its share of setbacks. The business was closed for almost 10 months after a devastating fire in 2007 and re-opened in February of 2008. During that downtime, the business owner and displaced staff experienced overwhelming support from the community, said General Manager Paul Stahnke. Calls poured in to the business headquarters and other locations asking for the Conyers location to be reopened, and patrons would drive as far as Jonesboro and Lawrenceville - two other Sonny's locations - not only to enjoy their favorite foods but also to support their favorite relocated server. The local city government who helped in every step of the way to get the business reopened and back on its feet, said Stahnke. When asked what he thought was the reason was for the outpouring of support, he cited one thing - "Family," he said. Not as in "family owned" business, but the patrons who have supported the business over the years are family.
The overall winning flavor of Sonny's comes not only the special sauces or mouthwatering dishes - such as its signature, falling-off-the-bone baby back ribs - but also the personal attention to the details of each customer and the stability of the employees. Repeat visitors from other cities and states are often welcomed by name by their attendant, which goes a long way in making customers feel at home.
Associate Bobbie Harper, who has been catering to the patrons almost since the doors first opened, said she has seen families grow and go through changes - children growing up, going away to college and life and returning to the restaurant with their own family, starting the cycle all over again.
Stahnke has been with the company since 1996 and was appointed to oversee the reopening of the restaurant and serve as its manager. Ron Donley, the owner the Conyers location, and is careful to have preserved the culture of the business by stressing the importance of community influence. He hires mainly, if not only, local residents from managers to wait staff, because again, that's another way to give back to the community in a positive way.
Sonny's is also a consistent employer of college students here in Conyers-Covington area, Stahnke pointed out. There are 41 staff members and for most, this is their first job before leaving for school and their part-time job when they come home from school. The business not only supports college students, it also lend its support in partnership with community groups like the Rockdale Youth Soccer Association, and helps to raise money for the March of Dimes by offering specials on their menus and donating most of the proceeds. Local church folks can bring the bulletin from their Sunday worship and enjoy discounts on their meals.
Sonny's Real Pit Bar-B-Q originated in Gainesville, Fla., in 1968 and operated strictly as a family-owned business until the early 80s when they began to offer franchises. Today, there are Sonny's Real Pit Bar-B-Q restaurants from Atlanta to Alabama and from Tennessee to Kentucky. Sonny's is located on 1870 Highway 20 SE in Conyers. Call (770) 860-0099 for more information.