More changes at the top: Famous Dave's CEO steps down amid turbulence


Another bump in the road for a Minnesota-based barbecue chain, which has now seen its second CEO resign in less than two years.

Famous Dave's of America, Inc., which is headquartered in the Twin Cities, announced Thursday that Chief Executive Officer Ed Rensi is stepping down after just 16 months in the role.

The company credits him with providing "valuable leadership and experience" during a "period of transition," according to a news release.

Now, the chain's priority, officials say, is finding a leader "who can drive the next stage of Famous Dave's innovation and growth."

In the meantime, an interim CEO has stepped into the role left vacant by Rensi, who will serve on the company's Board of Directors to spearhead its international expansion efforts.

The restaurant notes that Rensi was a president and Chief Exec of McDonald's before joining Famous Dave's.

The Star Tribune observes that the BBQ chain has experienced more than its fair share of turbulence lately, with first-quarter profits tumbling 62 percent and a stock price recorded at $20.82 this week – down from $34 five years ago.

Rensi's departure is by no means the only recent shakeup in company leadership, either. Last year, a long-serving chairman of the board resigned "abruptly"; in 2012, CEO Chris O'Donnell left the company. He would be succeeded by Rensi's predecessor.

Analysts noted that the changes at the top came about as a result of "activist investors" forcing their way into company decision-making.

Meanwhile, Famous Dave himself, Dave Anderson – who hasn't been directly involved with the company for years – has opened a new restaurant, "Old Southern BBQ Smokehouse."

In announcing the fresh start, Anderson commented that letting Famous Dave's go public was the "worst decision" of his life, saying the company he founded is now run by Wall Street investors.

Another blow to the chain came last November, when the very first Famous Dave's restaurant, located in Hayward, Wisconsin, was destroyed by a fire.

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