Family, community remember owner of Harlon’s Bar-B-Que

Published: Aug. 28, 2023 at 7:10 AM CDT
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NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - An East Texas entrepreneur has died and left behind a legacy of home-cooked barbeque meals.

The family is now keeping ‘the barbeque man’s’ memory alive as they continue running the ‘Harlon’s Bar-B-Que’ business.

Candace Brooks used a few words to describe her father, Harlon Brooks: comical, intelligent, and honest. “He was such an incredible man, and he helped so many people. I just don’t want him to be forgotten,” she said.

Brooks was born and raised in Nacogdoches. He married his high school sweetheart Alfreddie Brooks and had two children, Marlon and Candace Brooks.

“He just grew up catching chickens and always worked hard,” said Candace.

Brooks’ hard work became apparent in 1977 when he became the first black business owner to open ‘Harlon’s Bar-B-Que’ at the Houston Intercontinental Airport.

Since then, 27 restaurants have opened nationwide.” They rapidly grew to success because my dad just, you know, had that ambition,” said Candace.

Candace also said her father always remembered where he came from. “He wanted to come back home to Nacogdoches and opened a restaurant on Old Tyler Road.”

The Nacogdoches location remained open for ten years.

“It was probably one of the best restaurants in town,” said City of Nacogdoches mayor Randy Johnson.

“He’d be outside his food truck, with his little cooler and his lawn chair, and we’d talk and cut up and have a good time,” said the city mayor.

Johnson said Brooks’ passing affected everyone who knew him. “He’s going to be deeply missed in this community. Harlon was a good man.”

The state presented to the Brooks family a resolution that declared August 25 as national ‘Harlon Brooks Day.’

The Brooks family said you can find them participating in the Texas Blueberry Festival and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo next year.