Skip to main content

Struggling Famous Dave's appoints 4th CEO in 4 years

There's more upheaval at struggling barbecue chain Famous Dave's, which has just appointed its fourth CEO in as many years.
  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

There's more upheaval at struggling barbecue chain Famous Dave's, which has just appointed its fourth CEO in as many years.

The Minnetonka-based restaurant group announced on Wednesday that Adam Wright has left the company after just 10 months as CEO, with 19-year veteran Michael W. Lister taking his place.

Lister owns several Famous Dave's franchises in Tennessee and was previously the senior vice president of operations between 1997 and 2001.

He takes his new position at the top at a time of continued struggles for the chain, with his appointment making him the sixth CEO the company has had since 2008. He's the most recent leader given the brief to turn the company around,

"Mike Lister’s deep expertise in the restaurant industry, along with his demonstrated success as a Famous Dave’s franchise owner, gives us full confidence that he is the right leader to continue the efforts to turn Famous Dave’s around,"said Famous Dave’s Chairman Joseph Jacobs.

The Star Tribune reports that under Wright's leadership, Famous Dave's sales fell 14 percent in the second quarter and has seen its stock price slashed by more than half, from around $12 a share a year ago to just $5.28 on Wednesday.

During his brief tenure, Wright did bring back company founder Dave Anderson into the fold, and the newspaper says he will be staying on as a consultant under Lister.

Attempts to boost business have not been a huge success

Much of Wright's time saw him reverse changes made by previous CEOs that the company referred to as "wrong," which included smaller portions, different plateware and changes to "iconic items" such as its cornbread muffins.

Since then, the company has brought back bigger portions and previously popular menu items, improved staff training, and added short-term special menu items including beef short-rib and fried chicken dishes developed by Anderson himself.

The Business Journal reports that the chain has also been working to add more lower-cost options, such as a fried chicken and cornbread meal for $10 on Sundays, though this has yet to have an impact on its bottom line.

Anderson opened his first BBQ shack in Hayward, Wisconsin, in 1994, before opening Famous Dave's BBQ and Blues in Minneapolis two years later, according to the company website.

It now has around 200 eateries nationwide, 16 of them in Minnesota.

Next Up

Eli Hart

6-year-old Eli Hart identified as boy found dead in car trunk

The kindergartner's father was trying to get full custody of his son.

IMG_3509

Boy found dead in trunk of car in Mound was kindergartner

"It is horrifying and difficult to process a tragedy of this magnitude, especially in our close-knit community," the superintendent wrote.

Minneapolis police

Man found yelling for help after being shot in Minneapolis

The shooting occurred on the 800 block of Elwood Avenue North at around 9:15 p.m.

Screen Shot 2022-05-21 at 9.56.21 AM

Minneapolis North principal says she was fired, district says otherwise

“MPS requires schools to follow protocols in times like that and I did not,” Friestleben said.

Kris Richard Severin

Inmate who escaped Minnesota prison is captured

The inmate escaped Wednesday morning.

Brave New Comedy Workshop in downtown Minneapolis.

Brave New Workshop cancels shows due to COVID-19 cases

The shows were scheduled for Friday and Saturday at the Brave New Workshop Comedy Theatre.

Austin Retterath

Body of missing U of M student found in Mississippi River

Austin Retterath was last seen alive in the morning hours of May 8.

"Love" mural seen in St. Paul.

Summer mural events to bring together community, shine light on MN artists

The 2022 Chroma Zone Mural & Art Festival will take place this weekend in St. Paul's Creative Enterprise Zone, with ensuing events happening this summer.

14869-Manitou-Road-NE-Prior-Lake-MN-55372-6110268-image37

Gallery: Remodeled lakeside home in Prior Lake on market for $2.8M

It offers privacy at the end of a dead-end road fronting onto Lower Prior Lake.

golden valley police department

Carjacking outside ice arena in Golden Valley under investigation

Golden Valley PD confirmed it received a report of a carjacking Monday evening.

Growlers

Signs that MN Legislature could move to loosen liquor laws

A provision was approved by a legislature committee on Thursday but still awaits a final decision from the House and Senate.

Related

Famous Dave's founder opens new BBQ joint in Minneapolis

Dave Anderson has three Old Southern BBQ Smokehouses in Wisconsin, this is his first in Minnesota.

Famous Dave's founder opens new BBQ joint in Minneapolis

Dave Anderson has three Old Southern BBQ Smokehouses in Wisconsin, this is his first in Minnesota.

New CEO takes over Famous Dave's

Famous Dave's of America has appointed board member John Gilbert III as its new chief executive officer, the Pioneer Press reports. Current CEO Christopher O'Donnell will stay with the Minnetonka-based barbecue restaurant chain as its president and chief operating officer. Gilbert was most recently the CEO of Vermont Teddy Bear.