You are currently viewing VETERAN OWNED BUSINESSES: Gerald Searfoss, Owner of Black OPS BBQ, Brewerton

VETERAN OWNED BUSINESSES: Gerald Searfoss, Owner of Black OPS BBQ, Brewerton

U.S. Air Force

By Stefan Yablonski

After nearly two decades of military service, Gerald Searfoss decided to spice up things.

Searfoss was in the U.S. Air Force and was medically retired after 17 years of service due to post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, he said.

“I was a joint terminal attack controller,” he added. “I have been stationed at Fort Drum, Hurlbert Field Florida — Air Force Special Operations Command and at Hancock Field.”

He said that he joined the military just after 9-11, “I wanted to get in the fight and do what I could after the attack.”

After he was discharged, he owned and operated War Cry Apparel.

“And then a few years later, my wife, Heather Searfoss, and I started Black OPS BBQ,” he said.

Black OPS BBQ is located at 9633 White Tail Path in Brewerton.

War Cry Apparel was his first try at business.

“We gained a high following; but it was draining coming up with new designs every month,” he explained. “After about five years, I handed it over to another TACP brother down in Georgia and he is still currently operating it today.”

At Black OPS BBQ, they sell barbecue sauces and rubs as an e-commerce.

“We are also just recently starting to do small catering jobs. We have done several graduation parties and a wedding,” he said. “We started business in 2021 and launched at the Syracuse Gun Show.”

“Right now, the only staff is my wife and myself — unless we need help, then I will ask my ranger buddy, Braulio Moropinilla and his girlfriend, Tiffany Pena, to work with us,” he added.

Searfoss said he wasn’t sure if he uses too much from his military career in the business world — “outside of my ability to communicate and help people understand what it truly is we offer.”

He met his wife while he was still in the service. She wasn’t in; she was just finishing nursing school at University at Buffalo, he said.

“I meet her downtown while I was the designated driver for my TACP JTAC [tactical air control party, joint terminal attack controller] team that returned with me from Afghanistan in 2007,” he explained.

Searfoss spent 17 years in the US Air Force as a tactical air control party, joint terminal attack controller.

“I was the guy forward who would call in the air strikes for the Army. I spent three and a half years as an instructor in my career field,” he said. “After my time as an instructor, once returning to a deployable squadron, I spent most of my time as a unit training manager and operations training manager as well as a team leader when deployed battalion air liaison officer.”

It took some trial and error to figure out how to create the best barbecue.

“When it comes to barbecue, it is all trial and error until you find that perfect time-temp of what you are cooking,” he said. “When it comes to the sauce, being from the South I am not a fan of Northern barbecue or the sauces.”

“One day, my mother-in-law got me a book about sauces and rubs and I just started messing around with it and found the perfect sauce recipe through trial and error. And then — I perfected it,” he continued. “After that I started to expand on my sauces using juices and liquors that I thought would just help the flavors pop. That is how we came up with Deltas Secret Sauce, FNG, Play Time and Omega.”

Is it tougher to cater for a large group now compared to his military duties?

“No, it’s more relaxing as we are very personable with everyone that we work with,” he replied. “Plus, we have been told that they love my Southern hospitality!”

Almost all of the barbecue feedback has been extremely positive, according to Searfoss.

“Only one time have we received a negative response,” he said. “You can find that on our Google page as I don’t remove any comments, but I do respond.”

Outside of doing the barbecue business, he also has a side job at Spectrum in outside sales.

He has an associate degree in information management and military studies; and also a BA in criminal justice and a master’s in both business (MBA) and marketing.


Veterans at the forefront in several area businesses

Chris Platt, Owner of Storm Power Solutions LLC, Pulaski

Eileen Baugh, Owner of Admin-On-Call, LLC, Syracuse

Corey Christman, Owner of Bravery Wines, Penn Yan

J. Vasquez, Owner of The Ship Yard, Oswego

Michael Bower, Owner OF Eagle Metalcraft Co., E. Syracuse

Chris Dambach, Owner of Industry Standard, Liverpool

William R. Barry, Owner of One Cut Above, LLC, Fulton

Steven Mollica, Co-owns of Fort Frisbee LLC, Fulton

Resources Available to Entrepreneurial Vets