Barbecue made this Dave famous. Famous Dave's of America operates and franchises about 185 barbecue restaurants in some 35 states, primarily Minnesota, Illinois, California, and Wisconsin. The eateries serve St. Louis-style ribs, Georgia chopped pork, and Texas brisket. Most of the restaurants are designed to resemble 1930s-era roadhouse shacks complete with antique items and Americana touches. Other units try to recreate the feeling of a hunting lodge or a Chicago-style blues club featuring live music. The company also distributes barbecue sauce, seasonings, and prepared meats through grocery stores and other retail outlets. Famous Dave's owns and operates about 50 of its restaurants and franchises the rest.
While the company tries to appeal to a broad range of customers, Famous Dave's markets its distinctive look and menu items in an effort to set itself apart from other chains in the casual dining segment. Many of its restaurants are located in suburban areas near retail and entertainment developments that draw customer traffic. It faces competition mostly from well-known national chains such as Applebee's (owned by DineEquity) and Chili's (Brinker International).
In response to sales declines brought on by the recession, Famous Dave's invested more in marketing efforts and menu specials. It is particularly focused on promoting the chain as a social gathering place by emphasizing its full bar service. While the company has traditionally expanded through franchising, early in 2010 Famous Dave's acquired a half dozen restaurants from franchisees in New York and New Jersey. – less