Sonny and Lucille Tillman Football Endowment
Sonny and Lucille Tillman
This endowment was provided by the friends and associates of lifelong Gator fans Floyd “Sonny” Tillman and his wife, Lucille. When Tillman came to Gainesville in 1966 his only assets were $1,800 and the desire to open the best barbecue restaurant in town. Through diligent efforts and shrewd business skills, Tillman built his Sonny’s Real Pit Bar B Q chain into a company that had revenues of $68 million in 1984.
Tillman was born in Miami, Fla., but soon moved with his parents to Orange Heights where his father worked as a house painter and later as a justice of the peace. After leaving high school in the 10th grade, Tillman served two years in the Navy before marrying his wife, Lucille. After years working various odd jobs, Tillman came to Gainesville in 1968 to open a Fat Boy’s restaurant. Following the opening of his third restaurant in Orlando in 1977, Tillman changed the name of his restaurants to “Sonny’s Real Pit” and began leasing franchises.