Famous Dave’s unveils first fast-casual format

The company’s recovery plan bets big on off-premise


Nancy Luna, Nation's Restaurant News

May 09, 2019


The yearlong turnaround effort at Famous Dave's of America’s has involved a series of experiments including launching a ghost restaurant and a massive overhaul of the chain’s menu.


The latest experiment for the Minnetonka, Minn.-based full-service brand is unveiling a fast-casual restaurant.


A franchisee in Tucson, Ariz. opened a fast-casual Famous Dave’s this week, the first of its kind for the brand, CEO Jeff Crivello told Nation’s Restaurant News in a phone interview Thursday.


The 2,500-square foot restaurant is about 4,000 square feet smaller than a standard Famous Dave’s.  In Tucson, the franchise owner was seeing “empty seats” in his larger restaurant which he closed a few blocks down the street.


“Some of our boxes are too large,” Crivello said.


As off-premise sales, especially delivery, continue to be key sales drivers for the chain, Crivello said this Arizona test could result in future restaurants going with the smaller counter-service format.


“The business is shifting to off premise,” Crivello said.


The smaller store, which seats up to 75 people, has a trimmed down menu and requires less staff. That relieves the growing pressure operators are facing with higher labor and real estate costs, Crivello said.


“We’re trying to keep up with the restaurant evolution,” he said.


In the meantime, the CEO said the company will...


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