Five months after closing its Calhoun Square location, Famous Dave’s is returning to Uptown with a new Lake Street restaurant opening Dec. 16.
The Minnesota-based barbecue chain shut down their large, music venue and restaurant space in the Uptown mall in July, but quickly announced plans to move into the former New Bohemia at Lake & Aldrich. The new Uptown location embodies the chain’s strategic shift into smaller footprint restaurants that feel more like a bar and focus on catering, delivery and takeout business, according to Al Hank, Famous Dave’s director of strategy and franchise operations.
In recent years, off-site sales like catering, delivery and carry-out have become larger parts of their business, Hank said. Five years ago, off-site sales amounted to 30% of Famous Dave’s sales, but today represents about half. In a changing business environment, traditionally sized Famous Dave’s locations, like the more than 10,000-square-foot space the company ran for years in Calhoun Square, are too large to justify.
“It doesn’t make sense for us to continue to operate in that size of restaurant,” Hank said.
But after 23 years in Calhoun Square, the company knew it wanted to return to the area as soon as possible and the availability of a 3,000 square foot space on Lake Street felt right.
“We always wanted to remain in the Uptown area,” Famous Dave’s CEO Jeff Crivello said.
The new location will allow the company to try out not only a smaller space, but a bar-centric one. The new Famous Dave’s will have draft beer and cocktails and big screen TVs. The old shuffleboard table from New Bohemia will remain, and the restaurant plans to offer events like trivia, karaoke and other themed activity nights throughout the week.
To fit in the smaller location, Famous Dave’s had to order a slightly smaller smoker than usual, Crivello said. But that won’t stop the restaurant from offering all the standard barbecue meats and sides. At the new Uptown restaurant, it will also be trying new menu items like hot pretzels and bratwurst, something the company has been considering for a while. It’s a way to honor popular items from New Bohemia, Crivello said.
Where: 800 W. Lake St.
Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the opening date of the restaurant in the headline. The opening date is Dec. 16.