After life-changing moment, man discovers passion for cooking and a way to help others

For 35 years, Bob Barker has cooked hot dogs in his red food truck, becoming more than just a friendly face, but also a positive force in the community.

Bob Barker may not be internationally known like a similarly named television star, but he is a local legend all the same.

The owner and operator of local restaurant and hot dog stand Bob Barker’s Famous Hot Dogs & Coneys, Barker has been a game day fixture for fans of Syracuse University football and basketball for the past 35 years.

“I just like to help people if I can. I was brought up like that."
-- Bob Barker

Before he began parking his truck outside the Carrier Dome, Barker was a construction worker whose career was tragically cut short after he was struck by a drunk driver. After the collision that left him injured and unable to work, Barker searched for another way to make a living.

The answer was hotdogs.

”At the time my wife and friends said, ‘You’re not going to make nothing on the corners selling hotdogs, Bob,’” Barker said. “And I said, ‘Well, how do you know unless you try?’”

Over 35 years, Barker and his grill have become well known throughout Syracuse largely due to appearances riding his beloved golden palomino horse, Golden Star, in more than 200 local parades.

Although Golden Star passed on close to 15 years ago, the memories of those times have stayed with Barker to this day. His horse is always close by in spirit, making a prominent appearance on the colorful business cards Barker always has on hand. 

Spending just five minutes at Bob Barker's restaurant reveals the extent of Barker’s celebrity. Pictures, accolades and memorabilia cover any and all available wall space, with cameos ranging from sports stars such as Carmelo Anthony to musical dynasties such as the Sinatra family.

Bob Barker serves customers from his food truck near the Carrier Dome.

Despite the perks that come with being a local celebrity, Barker’s favorite part of his job remains interacting with the people who purchase his hotdogs on a daily basis. 

“When they come to the stand it’s like you’ve known them for a long time,” Barker said. “And that’s good.”

Today, Barker’s presence is still felt. When senior living complex Brighton Towers lost power in February, many residents were stranded without food and electricity. Barker, hearing the story on the local news, immediately felt compelled to help.

Over the course of the night, Barker personally delivered over 400 hotdogs free of charge to those stranded at Brighton Towers.

“I just like to help people if I can,” Barker said in an interview with CNY Central. “I was brought up like that. My mom and dad taught me if you can help somebody, help them.”

After 35 years, Barker still can. And Barker still does.

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