Our History

The Early Days

How did a small orchard in Colts Neck become a 60,000 square foot country food market attracting more than 2.5 million visitors annually?

Colts Neck, New Jersey was a rural farming and horse breeding community, connected to the Monmouth County seat of Freehold by an old farm road, which is now Route 537. Delicious Orchards grew to 110 acres over the years after the orchard opened in 1911, with three generations of the Barclay family managing the operation.

Carroll W. Barclay took over the operation of Delicious Orchards after World War II and began to change the operations from strictly wholesale to a mix of retail.

In 1959, Barclay hauled several wagonloads of apples to the roadside and set up a makeshift stand. This success with the public led to the construction of a 1,200 square foot stand the following year, and the modern day Delicious Orchards was born.


Storefront 2023

Route 34 Store

As the Delicious Orchards name became more famous in the 1960s, the Barclays moved toward a year-round business with the addition of more produce and baked goods.

Janet Barclay lost her living and dining rooms to the bakery operation, adding blueberry, cherry, strawberry-rhubarb, peach and pumpkin to the apple favorites. By 1965, Janet Barclay and her crew of local ladies and helpers were baking 3,000 pies per week.

In 1966, the Barclays bought a red brick building on Route 34 at Delicious Orchards current home. Now, with operations indoors, citrus fruits were added as well as cheeses.

Mcdonald Family Photo2

The Growing Years

In 1974, under the ownership of the Barclay family, a young produce stocker named Bill McDonald was hired. Bill would go on to learn all aspects of the business, but he hit a real home run in developing a produce department where only the product with the highest quality and freshness was put on display. Bill’s hard work led to many opportunities such as being promoted to the core management team at 20 years old, becoming an owning partner, and then saving enough money to eventually buy out the other owners.

During his early years at the store, Bill did get into a little trouble from his boss for taking extra-long breaks with a particular fellow employee. That young woman would turn out to be the love of his life, Linda. Bill and Linda would go on to raise four children and instill their strong work ethic, family values, and desire to make D.O. a great place to work and shop. Keri, Chris, Mike and Erin all grew up in the family business, have become vital members of the operation, and now have growing families of their own.

Family Photo 1

Delicious Orchards 2024...

Today, when they are not having fun with their eleven grandchildren (seriously, there are 11!), Bill is in the produce department tending to his produce displays and Linda is over in the Coffee department helping customers.

The McDonald Family has shaped the operation you see today. They have focused on enhancing the shopping experience and have made additions like our annual outdoor festivals, charity events, Juice bar, Cider Café, Fritter Shack, Seafood Department and Personal Shopping. But by no means are they done, as they work to usher in a variety of new products across produce, bakery, deli and grocery while keeping the classic recipes that kept customers coming back generation after generation. They have also expanded the year-round online gift-giving service to ship more D.O. essentials to customers all across the United States.

Anyone who knows the McDonald’s will realize that the “D.O. family” also extends to the dedicated staff and loyal customers. On any given day, you will see members of the McDonald family working side by side with staff and engaging with customers.

The goal has always been to make Delicious Orchards feel like home to any and all who pass through our doors.


Keeping Company Values

Over 2.5 million people visit Delicious Orchards during the year. We want each visitor to have a pleasant experience that they can share with friends and family. We feel we're still of the same philosophy John Barclay had when the first apple tree was planted 100 years ago. Uncompromising quality and making the customer number one. Each of our 250 employees is committed to excellence. Over 3,000 vendors know that to sell to Delicious Orchards is to sell only the best.

From each of us here at Delicious Orchards thank you for the past 100 years and we look forward to 100 more!