Famous Dave’s expands ghost kitchens through Johnny Carino’s partnership – Restaurant Dive

Dive Brief:

  • Famous Dave’s signed a 25-unit development agreement with Bluestone Hospitality Group to expand its footprint through both Famous Dave’s ghost kitchens and co-branded restaurants with Bluestone’s Johnny Carino’s brand, according to a press release. Bluestone, a Famous Dave’s franchisee, also has a number of other restaurant concepts in its portfolio, including Burger King, On the Border and Popeyes.
  • Famous Dave’s, which currently has 125 locations, is also planning to add drive-thrus at both its existing locations and its planned locations, according to the release.
  • Diversifying its footprint could help Famous Dave’s better recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to same-store sales declines of nearly 23% at company-owned locations during Q2 2020. Working within another restaurant also decreases rent, doesn’t add much, if any, labor costs, and makes operations more efficient, Jeff Crivello, Famous Dave’s CEO, said. 

Dive Insight:

Famous Dave’s sales began to turn around last year as the chain put greater focus on off-premise business. In late 2018, the company began scouting locations in both California and Minneapolis specifically to accelerate its catering and delivery businesses. The company also began testing virtual brands in 2019 to serve a separate menu of fried chicken and burgers under a different name, as well as ghost kitchens focused on off-premise and catering for the Famous Dave’s brand. These moves have been part of of Crivello’s plan to turn the “tired” chain around.

The pandemic only accelerated these plans, Crivello said. Many of these plans were already on the docket over the