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Famous Dave’s CEO Jeff Crivello on smart investing in ghost kitchens, dual brands, and virtual concepts

Famous Dave’s has pivoted during the pandemic toward a smaller physical footprint and larger digital footprint

Famous Dave’s Barbecue, the Minnetonka, Minn.-based, 127-unit barbecue chain, was beginning to shift its focus to off-premise operations long before the pandemic began, and pre-COVID, half of their sales were from off-premise options. But since March, the barbecue chain has turned up the dial on their digital offerings by developing their first ghost kitchens and virtual concepts and introducing dual brands.

In this episode of Extra Serving, Famous Dave’s CEO Jeff Crivello explained how this works. The ghost kitchens are operated out of a shared commissary space without the Famous Dave’s name attached to them, and if those do well, then they are graduated to dual concepts with Famous Dave’s operating alongside an outside concept. They’re also trying their hand at new virtual brands like a chicken wing concept, Hayward’s Hen House, which also serves chicken strips and burgers.

“The name of the game throughout the pandemic has been efficiency,” Crivello said. “[…] Food on demand is really the evolution that's happening quickly through the pandemic. People want food wherever they are, whenever they want it. Some people don't mind picking it up. But when they pick it up, they want it to be very simple and seamless, and contactless.”

Crivello explained that while they focus on smaller footprints with designated pickup areas and an expanded digital presence, the next step will be drive-thrus, which they’re currently designing.

Keep listening below for more intel on Famous Dave’s Barbecue from CEO Jeff Crivello.

Contact Joanna Fantozzi at [email protected]

Follow her on Twitter: @joannafantozzi

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