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Local News

April 15, 2013

Restaurant founder Brooks dies at 94

Griffin Brooks, a founder of the Oneonta barbecue restaurant and catering business that bears his name, has died.

Brooks, 94, of Stamford, died Saturday, according to an obituary.

Brooks and his wife, Frances, founded Brooks’ House of Bar-B-Q more than 50 years ago. The three-generation family business serves meals at its restaurant on state Route 7 in the town of Oneonta and widely throughout the area with its catering services.

In 1992, Brooks and his wife were recognized with the Distinguished Alumni Award from the State University College of Technology at Delhi, where they had met in the 1940s. The award recognizes graduates who made outstanding contributions in their field, to the college and to the community, Kimberly MacLeod, director of communications at the college, said Sunday.

``We, of course, extend our heartfelt condolences to the family — Griffin will be sorely missed,’’ said MacLeod, who first worked with the couple on alumni reunion events. ``You can bet if there’s a barbecue dinner offered on the Delhi campus, it’s a Brooks Bar-B-Q dinner.’’

Brooks studied animal husbandry at SUNY Delhi and graduated in 1940. He married Frances McClelland, a student of food management, in 1941, and they purchased her father’s poultry farm in Stamford, where they had a retail store.

In 1951, they started catering locally, and by the mid-1950s, the family was catering from April to the end of September, a history on the Brooks’ website said, and they held barbecues at their farmstead on Saturday nights during the summer.

In 1958, the Brooks family began operating a concession stand at the miniature golf and driving range connected with the Del-Se-Go Drive-In. Later, they leased land on state Route 7, near the present Oneonta location, and built the first Brooks’ House of Bar-B-Q Restaurant. This restaurant opened on June 10, 1961, with a seating capacity of 80 and about 15 employees.

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