We really want to love ‘Famous Dave’s”. We could not wait for this franchise to come to Northern California. It arrived and we had some very good meals. Dave Anderson the founder sold out to a large corporation and like all huge franchises the quality suffered in the name of the all-mighty dollar. Dave Anderson has returned to the fold and a new branch of Famous Dave’s opened in Alameda California. We decided to play the role of the prodigal son and give this new restaurant a chance.
This is week two of the new opening of this location. It is modern. It is missing the bbq kitsch that is associated with this chain. We walked through the doors to a sleek, industrial style dining area. It was minimalistic. It even had a new smell. There was a bar area with plenty of seating throughout. There were televisions scattered throughout the restaurant showcasing sporting events. Our waiter who was also the bartender introduced himself as “Famous Mathew”. I asked him why he was famous and his reply; I am famous because I am awesome. “All righty now”; we placed our orders.
If you click and enlarge the above image you will notice a smudge in the lower right corner of the menu. I thought this was a little gross. It turns out that this is imprinted into the menu to mimic a sauce smudge. There are several other smudges imprinted throughout the menu. Cute or tacky? We noticed several tables getting complimentary kettle chips. I guess we were not on this V.I.P list because we felt a little left out. Our food came promptly. Let me say, Famous Dave’s makes one pretty plates. The food looked fantastic. Ms. Goofy ordered wings with a side of mac & cheese. Ms. Goofy likes her blue cheese dipping sauce and requested extra. The server promised to return with more but must have got lost on her non-return. Unforatanetly the wings were over cooked. They were dry and a little chewy. Ms. Goofy did like her jalapeno studded mac & cheese.
Ribs and burnt ends was my choice today. I do admit I enjoyed both of my choices. The ribs were not competition caliper but if you saw the stripped bones on my bare plate you might wonder. The burnt ends were nice little cubes of meat candy. The sides of Cole slaw and beans were both cloying sweet and not so pleasant. My meal was supposed to come with corn bread but another server/kitchen mistake occurred. The server offered to give me a corn bread to go but I declined.
We really want to love Famous Dave’s. The little server mishaps might be forgivable. Did the ribs and burnt ends make up for overcooked wings? We are glad Dave Anderson is back but I am not sure if we will return. There are lots of other barbeque restaurants to explore and Famous Dave’s will be put at the very end of the que for now.
The company is on the verge of bankruptcy, year-over-year same store sales keep falling. They are publicly traded, DAVE, and the stock is down 75% in the past 12 months.
Dave Anderson has been hired back to try to stanch the bleeding, but his real focus is a new venture: http://www.oldsouthernbbq.com/home
Here is a bit of the backstory: http://www.startribune.com/famous-dave-s-founder-is-opening-a-new-barbecue-restaurant/298392971/
Aaron, You are a wealth of bbq history knowledge. With information like that is is very surprising they have opened the new branch in Alameda. That may explain the lack of bbq kitsch. It will be easier to convert to another restaurant in six months.
Did you get my email about the Galileo?
We've never eaten at Famous Dave's and it sounds like we don't need to. Since I began queing, I rarely eat it out anymore - nearly always disappointed.
Big Dude, We enjoy going to bbq restaurants. As judges we may be little critical of the food but we like to experience the whole ticket; ambiance, service, venue, and of course did we enjoy the food. I like to believe I am a decent cook but cooking a whole brisket for just Ms. Goofy and I provides a whole lot of leftovers. We probably go out once a week. I would like to add we like to go out to share the experience with our wonderful readers.
Your photos look wonderful! I guess not everything translates to a corporate entity. I've been on the team of a couple restaurant openings. Never again! Most of the highly paid "decision makers" have had no real hands on experience. You know how to make a million dollars in the restaurant business? Start with three million!
Greg, Thanks about the photos. I get my inspiration from this blogger; Life's a Picnic.
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