Brooks House of Bar-B-Q
By Karen Cuccinello – 4/2022
Brooks House of Bar-B-Q had its beginnings at 64150 Hobart Rd../Rte 10, Harpersfield/Stamford when Griffin Allen and Frances Grace (McClelland) Brooks bought Grace’s parent’s poultry business in 1941. They raised and processed poultry and sold eggs locally for about 10 years before pioneering the barbecued chicken business.
Griffin “Griff” was born on a dairy farm on April 7, 1919, in Meshoppen, PA to Walter H. and Ethel B. (Dean) Brooks. He graduated from Springville, PA High School in 1937, attended Scranton Keystone Junior College for one year then graduated from Delhi Tech with a degree in Animal Husbandry in 1940. While at Delhi Tech he met Frances “Fran” McClelland, a 1941 graduate of Institutional Management, and married her on November 1, 1941, in Stamford.
Frances was born April 10, 1920, the only child of John Hanford (1885-1983) and Lena Mabel (Gould, 1886-1965) McClelland. She grew up helping her parents on their poultry farms and graduated from Stamford Central School in 1938.
The McClelland’s were poultry farmers in Hobart from about 1905 until buying Charles Briggs house and land on Hobart Rd. in 1916. In 1906 he was advertising 50 thoroughbred single comb Brown Leghorn pullets for sale, in 1915 he hatched 7,000 chicks in his incubator, and in 1913 he was considered one of the largest and most progressive chicken farmers in the Hobart area by installing a new incubator for 1800 egg. March 26, 1921, Roxbury Times- It is alleged that our poultry king, John McClelland is running his henery by the squad system, eight hours on and eight hours off by the use of his electricity, business goes on night and day. He expects to exhaust their laying propensities by boarding season and then turn them over to the Green and Ulster County dealers for food. The McClelland’s moved to 14 West End in 1941 so I’m sure they walked over to their old farm to help out sometimes.
The Brook’s had four children Phyllis (Mrs. Steve O’Sullivan), Rebecca/Becky (Mrs. Rich Myers), John, and Sharon (Mrs. Wally Dawson). The family was very civic-minded and involved in Boy Scouts, Red Cross Bloodmobile, Stamford recreation center, Stamford Home Bureau Unit, Delaware County Farm Bureau Poultry Committee, and Stamford Central School Citizens School Committee and school board. From a June 25, 1966 article in the Oneonta Star Fran states: At the Brooks’ home in Stamford everyone is “chicken-minded”. They own a chicken farm where 7,000 chickens are raised each year. Mrs. Brooks collects ceramic chickens and all four children have helped in the raising, serving, and or barbecuing of same.
October 28, 1948 Stamford Mirror-Recorder- Griffin A. Brooks heard a noise near the hen house Tuesday evening, came out, and scared away two men with a truck. They left so hurriedly that they left a sack behind. Griff peered into the sack and found just what he wanted from Santa Claus—a chicken.
April 12, 1951, Stamford Mirror-Recorder- Brooks poultry farm of Stamford brought home the bacon for their eggs at the annual farm and home show in Oneonta. The local farm was named grand champion with a score of 99 ¾ out of a possible 100 points for their extra-large white eggs.
About 1951 the Brooks also started barbecuing chicken halves on a charcoal pit at the farm on the weekends and also catered events at the Stamford Rod and Gun Club and at Grange Hall’s etc.
In 1952 Brooks was selling 800 Rock Red cross pullets, 200 New Hampshire pullets, and 200 White Rock pullets starting to lay and was shipping hatching eggs on the railroad. In 1954 three hundred chicks perished in a blaze that destroyed a poultry house on the farm of Griffin Brooks; the blaze was attributed to a defective oil-fired brooder in the poultry house.
In 1958 they opened a BBQ concession stand at the Del-Se-Go Drive-In theater, driving range, and miniature golf course. The Del-Se-Go was in business from 1948 to 1981 and is now the site of the Oneonta Price Chopper.
They opened their first restaurant in the spring of 1961near the Del-Se-Go and as they were about to shut down for the winter, in November, the building sustained a fire that caused $10,000 in damage. As the Brook’s were erecting a new restaurant the old building caught fire in November 1965 causing $25,000 in damage. The restaurant built in 1965 is the current restaurant and it features the largest indoor charcoal barbecue pit. They continued catering around the area at events such as the Cobleskill Fair. In 1975, Griffin and Frances sold the restaurant to their son John and his wife Joan and in 2005 John and Joan sold the restaurant to their son Ryan and his wife Beth. Now in business for 61 years.
Griff passed away in 2013 and Fran in 2017, burial in the Stamford Cemetery.