Famous Dave's chairman exits

  • Updated: June 9, 2014 - 9:34 PM

Famous Dave’s of America chairman Dean Riesen resigned after leading its board of directors since 2011, the latest leadership shake-up at the Minnetonka-based restaurant chain.

Riesen exited on Friday from the Famous Dave’s board, according to a federal securities document the company filed on Monday. Riesen had been on the board since 2003 and chairman since 2011. No successor was immediately named.

The company’s recently appointed chief executive, Ed Rensi, issued a statement thanking Riesen for his work.

“Famous Dave’s future has never been brighter,” Rensi said. “We have a strong management team and a new board in place dedicated to serving our customers the country’s best BBQ, supporting our franchisees’ growth and profitability, and creating value for our shareholders.”

Riesen was chairman when marketing executive John Gilbert was hired as CEO to get the sluggish company growing again. But Gilbert abruptly resigned in February and Rensi, a former McDonald’s executive and a board member, was tapped as interim CEO. Last month, Rensi’s interim title was removed and he is now CEO.

Also, Christopher O’Don­nell, the company’s chief operating officer and CEO before Gilbert, saw his employment terminated at the end of March.

All the changes have come as potential activist shareholders have built sizable stakes in Famous Dave’s over the past 18 months.

Famous Dave’s shares fell 4 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $34.34 on Monday. .

Mike Hughlett

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