BBQ Holdings has found another way to appeal to the customer on the run.
The parent franchiser of Famous Dave's will open its first cafeteria-line model to replace the full-service restaurant in Coon Rapids that closed in September.
The new restaurant, with construction starting next month, will be BBQ Holdings' first Famous Dave's Quick Que. It replaces a larger traditional sit-down model with a smaller concept with less dine-in space and more takeout focus. Even before the pandemic, Famous Dave's was moving away from its larger, sit-down model to a quick-serve, takeout and delivery model in a smaller footprint.
The new concept will open in late summer and includes space for 48 diners inside and an additional 40 seats on an enclosed patio.
"This gives us the ability to attract new franchisees," said Jeff Crivello, chief executive of Minnetonka-based BBQ Holdings. "It's a lower initial investment for them and higher efficiency." The goal will be to cut order times to under three minutes, similar to Chipotle. A customer chooses meat, walks down the line with a tray and chooses sides and a drink.
Real Urban Barbecue in Chicago inspired the new cafeteria-line model, which provides a quicker, smoother experience for customers and lower overhead for franchisees, according to Crivello. BBQ Holdings purchased Real Urban last year. Originally, the restaurant had four Illinois locations. Former owner Jeff Shapiro eventually closed all but one location, which BBQ Holdings purchased.
The company has no plans for additional Quick Que locations in Minnesota, but it is working on adding the in-line service model at two Famous Dave's locations in Las Vegas and New York later this year.
Crivello has said that as leases come due, some franchisees will be encouraged to move to smaller locations. Most existing stores are 6,500 square feet. The new model calls for 3,000 square feet.
The Coon Rapids restaurant, which will be 2,700 square feet, will be operated by franchisees John Glockner and Julie Wright Card, sister to former Famous Dave's CEO Adam Wright. Their Eden Prairie-based company, DYSG, also owns Famous Dave's franchises in Fargo, Sioux City, Iowa, and Sioux Falls, S.D. The original location owned by the company was sold to a developer last year for $3.6 million.
Since the pandemic, 65% of Famous Dave's business is takeout. The company plans to add its first drive-through restaurant later this year at a Utah location.
BBQ Holdings has 117 Famous Dave locations in the U.S. It also owns Granite City Brewery, Clark Crew BBQ and Real Urban Barbecue.
John Ewoldt • 612-673-7633