Famous Dave's, Charley's Launch Fast-Casual Concepts

Chains debut prototypes to compete in rapidly expanding sector

Famous Dave’s of America Inc. and Charley’s Grilled Subs have debuted new store prototypes designed to compete within the rapidly expanding fast-casual sector.

Minneapolis-based Famous Dave’s opened one of its “Famous Dave’s BBQ Shack” prototypes Monday in Eden Prairie, Minn. Unlike other BBQ Shack units, the location includes counter service and a pick-up window.

EARLIER: Famous Dave’s to test fast-casual prototype

Famous Dave’s president and chief executive Christopher O’Donnell said the company-owned unit allows for faster service while serving the same St. Louis-style ribs and barbecued meats smoked on-site as the fare available at the chain’s 184 casual dining locations in 37 states.

He added that the BBQ Shack also would be a lab where the brand would try out new menu items.

O’Donnell said the fast-casual concept will feature the same menu items as Famous Dave’s, “but in a smaller footprint and with quicker counter service for both dine-in and to-go orders”

In addition, he continued, “Our founder, ‘Famous Dave’ Anderson, will use this location to try new menu ideas and to experiment with new seasonings, sauces, and flavors.”

The BBQ Shack prototype also will accommodate phone-ahead orders with a pick-up window, which is not traditionally part of a fast-casual restaurant, but would benefit Famous Dave’s carryout and catering business, O’Donnell said.

“We understand that sometimes guests are in a hurry, need to pick up a quick dish for a party, or just want to get home quickly with a delicious meal they can share with their family in the comfort of their own home,” he said. “The pick-up window is our version of curb-side service.”

Throughout December, Famous Dave’s is celebrating the debut of the BBQ Shack by accepting entries for a drawing for free monthly, catered All-American BBQ Feasts for a year to one winner, who will be selected on Jan. 6, 2012.