Famous Dave's of America Inc. is taking a new corporate name — but not changing the name of its restaurants — and a new symbol on the stock exchange: BBQ.
"We've had it in reserve," Jeff Crivello, chief executive of Famous Dave's, said Tuesday.
The Minnetonka-based company notified investors late last week that it will change to a holding-company structure on Sept. 17. As part of the change, the firm's legal name will change to BBQ Holdings Inc. and it will give up the symbol DAVE that it has used since 1996 on the Nasdaq Stock Market.
The move reflects the company's ambition to purchase and run restaurants beyond its namesake chain. The company already owns a restaurant in Oklahoma City called Clark Crew BBQ.
Famous Dave's recently obtained financing to be able to purchase other restaurants as it continues to reshape its 134-unit chain. Over the past two years, the company has developed a new look and menu at its corporate-owned locations, chiefly in the Twin Cities, and encouraged franchisees in the rest of the country to follow along.
In Minneapolis, Famous Dave's is also experimenting with smaller-format restaurants and will soon unveil plans to replace a larger-sized unit that recently closed in the Uptown neighborhood.
"Famous Dave's is going through its evolution and while it does that, we also want other paths to be operating in tandem," Crivello said. "Clark Crew is the first one we've really put a lot of time and effort and resources behind."
Clark Crew was developed by Travis Clark, the veteran of the Kansas City barbecue scene whom Famous Dave's hired last year as its national pitmaster.
"We just felt BBQ Holdings Inc. was a more appropriate name as we entered into a growth stage and as we have an open mind for acquiring other concepts," Crivello said. "We're all set up and geared up to make acquisitions when appropriate."
The financial results of the Famous Dave's and Clark Crew results will be consolidated under the holding company structure. As Clark Crew grows, Crivello said the firm will find a way to disclose its performance to investors.