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Famous Dave’s Makes Changes During The Pandemic

Businesses were forced to make many changes over the last year of the pandemic, including Famous Dave’s restaurant. WCCO Mid-Morning – March 22, 2021

Video Transcript

SHAYLA REAVES: Businesses were forced to make many changes over the last year of the pandemic.

HEATHER BROWN: And that includes Famous Dave’s, the barbecue chain that was started by famous Dave Anderson. They started up their first restaurant in Hayward, Wisconsin. So we have Jeff Crivello, CEO of Famous Dave’s, joining us live this morning on Skype. Jeff, thanks for being with us today.

JEFF CRIVELLO: Thank you. My pleasure.

HEATHER BROWN: So let’s go back a year ago. Your restaurants, like everyone, had to shut down at the time. What did that mean for Famous Dave’s?

JEFF CRIVELLO: Well, as I like to say, when you can hit in the face with a pie, you tend to act and react much different and much faster than you normally would. So we had to immediately begin innovating. And to do that, we opened 15 ghost restaurants, seven of which are in our Granite City restaurant.

We developed two virtual concepts, one a current concept and the other is to soon be announced. We converted our restaurants using our to-go counter to counter serve models. We added a Famous Dave’s restaurant to the Texas T-Bone Steakhouse restaurants in Colorado Springs. We bought a real urban barbecue concept in Vernon Hills, Illinois. And from that, we developed a whole new Famous Dave’s.

SHAYLA REAVES: And how did those changes help you once things were partially able to reopen?

JEFF CRIVELLO: So again, all of that evolution and that innovation allowed us to continue to operate Famous Dave’s as we did prior to the pandemic. Barbecue travels very well. People love it because it’s a comfort food. And a lot of the things that we learned during the pandemic, we’ll continue to use even post-pandemic.

HEATHER BROWN: Jeff, this is incredible, because during the pandemic, a lot of restaurants really suffered. But for you, it looks like it’s just grow, grow, grow right now.

JEFF CRIVELLO: Yep. Yes. We took the opportunity to expand. And as I’d like to say, all of those things that we did to innovate, it was with the goal of delivering and serving America’s favorite barbecue to as many people as possible.

And so many restaurants unfortunately closed, and it was a very frustrating time for restaurants. We chose to fight. We chose to evolve. We chose to innovate as quickly as possible, knowing that the light at the end of tunnel would come and the new dawn would happen. And here we are. We think we’re coming out of this evolution with a new innovation.

SHAYLA REAVES: And what is next? What do you hope for next as we navigate life, slowly coming out of this pandemic?

JEFF CRIVELLO: Well, certainly life has changed. And we think customers want high-quality food without all the traditional steps of service. We call this efficiency, and we call it the next evolution of Famous Dave’s. One of the things that we did was we developed the line serve concept that I mentioned. Then we also developed a line serve concept with a drive-thru. And so these are the things that we’ll be building and continue to roll out post-pandemic.

SHAYLA REAVES: And it’s so interesting to see how restaurants had to get creative to reach and connect with their customers at a time like now. Jeff, thank you so much for joining us for that take on how Famous Dave’s has navigated the last few months, and what the next few months look like as we make our way out of this pandemic. Jeff, thanks so much. Of course.