MINNETONKA, Minn. (AP) — “Famous Dave” Anderson has rejoined the struggling barbecue restaurant chain that bears his name.
Minnetonka-based Famous Dave’s of America Inc. said Friday that Anderson has returned to the company after a reorganization of the board and executive management team aimed at getting the company back on track.
Interim CEO Adam Wright said in a statement that Anderson “is helping to rebuild our company’s culture and improve our guest experience. … He will be working hard to inspire and educate our team and local pitmasters.”
Anderson opened his first restaurant in Hayward, Wisconsin, in 1994. Anderson, who is of Ojibwe and Choctaw heritage, resigned as the company’s chairman in 2004 to lead the Bureau of Indian Affairs under President George W. Bush and later returned to the company as a spokesman and consultant. But he resigned last year, citing differences with management. The company didn’t disclose Anderson’s exact new role.
“I am excited to be Famous Dave again and back at the company in an expanded role focused on re-energizing our guest’s experience by serving the highest quality authentic Bar-B-Que, with world class hospitality,” Anderson said in the statement.
Famous Dave’s has 44 company-owned restaurants and 136 franchise units in 33 states, plus Puerto Rico and Canada. The company has been in turmoil. Ed Rensi, the third CEO in three years, abruptly resigned in June. In August, Famous Dave’s reported a steep drop in its second-quarter profits, and the company publicly criticized Rensi’s changes, saying they turned off customers. Its stock closed Friday at $11.46, near its 52-week low and well below its high for the year of $34.73.
Anderson said he would continue working with his new fast-casual barbecue concept, Jimmie’s Old Southern BBQ Smokehouse, in Hayward. He said the concept is different from Famous Dave’s, with a quick-serve format, a smaller menu and different recipes.
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