DELHI – Brooks’ House of BBQ second-generation owner John Brooks will be presented an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at SUNY Delhi’s 101st annual graduation at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 19.
SUNY Delhi President Michael Laliberte called Brooks, one of 11 family members with Delhi degrees, “a passionate advocate and friend whose achievements are inspiring and demonstrate to students the benefits of a SUNY Delhi education.”
From boyhood, Brooks helped his father barbecue chicken at local fund-raisers for not-for-profits. At age 15, his parents built an 80-seat restaurant in Oneonta that all family members helped run.
As a Hotel and Resort Management major, he earned the American Culinary Federation’s New York City Chapter’s Outstanding Foodservice Management Award in recognition of his “enthusiasm and promise for the future.”
Following graduation in 1967, he served four years in theAir Force, rising to the rank of sergeant. He then returned home to the family business, joining with his wife Joan to purchase the restaurant from his parents in 1975.
John and Joan took the business to new heights. doubling sales and achieving state and national acclaim. The restaurant won the James Beard Foundation “America’s Classics” award was honored in a Congressional Proclamation and state Legislative Resolution.
It has been featured by Rachel Ray on Food Network Television and profiled in publications.
In 2005, Brooks and his wife Joan sold the restaurant to their son Ryan and his wife Beth, who opened a bottling line that produces more than one million bottles of barbecue sauces annually, including private label sauces for nation-wide food industry leaders. Sauces marketed under the Brooks’ brand include SUNY Delhi Bronco Sauce, first introduced in 2017.
The Brooks family has also created a legacy of philanthropy, establishing scholarship endowments at three SUNY campuses – Delhi, Oneonta, and Cobleskill.
John Brooks has been the recipient of numerous honors, including SUNY Delhi’s Distinguished Alumni Award and by awards from the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce, Fox Hospital, and Future for Oneonta Foundation.