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UPDATE: Goronkin to leave Famous Dave’s for Redstone

MINNEAPOLIS David Goronkin is stepping down as president and chief executive of Famous Dave’s of America Inc. to become president and chief executive of Redstone American Grill, the Wayzata, Minn.-based casual dinnerhouse concept said Wednesday.


Famous Dave's, the operator or franchisor of 157 barbecue restaurants, said director F. Lane Cardwell would assume Goronkin’s posts on an interim basis.



Goronkin also is relinquishing his board seat at Famous Dave’s, the company said.



Goronkin, 44, will begin his new post at Redstone American Grill on Jan. 7, Redstone said in a statement. Created by Champps founder Dean Vlahos, Redstone has four units in three states and recently raised $10 million to fund its expansion plans, which likely will include more units on the East Coast, according to a report in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.



The placement of Cardwell, a member of Famous Dave’s board, was in accordance with Famous Dave’s previously adopted succession plan, the company said. He is expected to serve as CEO on a short-term basis while a permanent replacement is found.



Cardwell has more than 28 years of experience in the restaurant industry, including time as president of the Eatzi’s takeout concept while it was operated by Brinker International Inc. Most of his tenure has been spent in casual dining, working with such companies as S&A Restaurant Corp., then-parent of Steak and Ale and Bennigan’s, as well as Chili’s Inc., which became Brinker International.



Cardwell currently serves on the boards of P.F. Chang’s China Bistro Inc. and two private restaurant companies. He is also one of three industry veterans who formed a restaurant-focused investment vehicle, The Chain Gang, whose principals recently have indicated that the concern may be about to make an acquisition.



Famous Dave’s has seen its stock price fall 16.4 percent this year, through Nov. 30. For the company’s nine months ended Sept. 30, net income had jumped 30.6 percent from the same period a year ago, to $5.1 million. Revenues increased 6.5 percent to $94.4 million. Same-store sales at corporate restaurants open more than 18 months rose 2.1 percent for Famous Dave’s latest quarter ended Sept. 30. Quarterly same-store sales at franchised locations fell 3.5 percent.



The chain, which is mostly franchised, has been signing development agreements aggressively throughout fiscal 2007 and has 167 deals for franchised locations.


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