Dave Anderson, founder of Famous Dave's, lives for barbeque. Growing up in Chicago, home of the Blues, Dave's passion for ribs began as a young boy when his dad would bring ribs home from work in his lunch bucket. His dad would get the best tasting slow-smoked spare ribs from street corner vendors who used 55 gallon smokers filled with charcoal and smoldering green hickory wood. They were the legendary ribs just like the champion pitmasters used to smoke way down in the deep south.
Realizing that his dream was to one day open his own barbeque restaurant, Dave spent more than 25 years of his adult life searching all over the country for the best barbeque and feasting on a variety of smoked meats available from every barbeque joint he could find. His passion was almost religious in nature - his understanding of the holy trinity is "Smoke, Meat and Sauce". His trips to these most famous bastions of barbeque were like "pilgrimages" to the most "hallowed shrines" of barbeque! And the heavenly aromas wafting from ribs fresh from the smoker, were like answered prayers. And once the ribs were slathered with barbeque sauce — they were "baptized!"' During his travels, Dave visited every barbeque restaurant he could find — literally thousands over 25 years. From the neighborhood storefront BBQ shacks in Memphis, Kansas City, and Chicago, to the backwoods smoke-houses found in the Southern foothills of Missouri, Georgia, Tennessee the Carolinas, and finally, to the huge mesquite pits of Texas.
With each trip, Dave learned more and more about barbeque sauces too, and would return home to his kitchen for repeated testing and the refining of his taste senses. Trying to understand the intricate workings of natural flavors, fruit juices, black strap molasses, spices and herbs, and how they'd react to each other under various times and temperatures, Dave would spend countless hours crushing, grinding and tasting fresh herbs and spices. He would taste them dry, boil them, saute' them in different oils, and then hold them in his mouth until he truly understood the correct conditions to blend these fresh ingredients.
After more than 25 years and many all-night cooking and tasting sessions, with thousands of batches of sauces, he finally developed and perfected the best barbeque sauce his friends and family had ever tasted. Today, there are six award winning Famous Dave's sauces representing different regional tastes Dave discovered during his travels throughout America: Rich & Sassy (Dave's original recipe), a Midwest tomato-based sauce; Hot & Sassy, a somewhat hotter version of Rich & Sassy; Texas Pit, a spicy southwestern style, almost as popular as Rich & Sassy; Georgia Mustard , a vinegar, brown sugar, mustard based sauce commonly found in the Appalachians and southeastern states; Sweet & Zesty, our newest addition to sauce line that is not only sweet, but delivers full flavor people have some to expect in all our sauces. And finally, Devil's Spit, Dave's For Adults Only XXX Hot barbque sauce straight from Hell's kitchen. Only the hottest peppers stolen from the devil's own backyard were used. This barbeque sauce is so damn tasty it's almost sinful (he claims the devil made him do it!). These sauces have been likened to the most powerful love potions known to man — please be careful. A generous slathering will make girls prettier and boys stronger, taller and more handsome-or vice versa.
Dave quickly learned that conventional methods of cooking ribs were not good at all. He found that parboiling and baking washed all the flavor out of ribs and that they had to be drowned in store bought sauce. After 25 years of backyard experiments, Dave has smoked tons of ribs in an old garbage can and cooked up thousands of gallons of sauce perfecting his now famous barbeque. Dave discovered that there is no other way to smoke good "cue" than to first hand rub each slab with a blend of southern spices, then slow smoke 'em in a pit of smoldering hickory. This was the time-honored way, the traditional way used by champion pitmasters down in the Deep South. These ribs are so good right out of the smoker — try 'em without the sauce —just order your bones naked! These were the kind of ribs Dave had grown to love as a boy in Chicago — the kind he knew, along with his barbeque sauce, would someday make his barbeque famous.
In 1994, while continuing to call Minneapolis home, Dave purchased a small resort on Big Round Lake in Hayward. The resort, with eight cabins, had a restaurant and bar that Dave envisioned as the possible fulfillment of his life's dream — a barbeque restaurant. Planning a modest remodeling, the restaurant was ultimately demolished and rebuilt in the style of a magnificent Adirondack Lodge. From the beginning, the restaurant, named "Famous Dave's BBQ Shack," was a tremendous success — serving as many as 1,000 in a night. Dave regularly heard those from the Twin Cities asking when a Shack might come to Minneapolis. With the success of this northwoods lodge, Dave knew that his dreams of a roadhouse barbeque shack and blues club would soon be a reality.
Knowing he had the kind of barbeque people craved and would drive several hours to get, Dave was eager to bring a BBQ Shack to Minneapolis. In looking for a location, Dave came across what he thought would be a perfect spot in the quaint, old-time Linden Hills neighborhood. So, in the winter of 1995, work began on a true Southern roadhouse Shack, filled with antiques and fun murals, reminiscent of the BBQ shacks that filled the South 50 years ago. With little advertising and a location in a hidden little treasure of a neighborhood, customers and food writers alike soon discovered Famous Dave's with its little 50-seat dining room and 25-seat screened-in porch. People drove from all parts of the Twin Cities and beyond to eat the barbeque that was really growing "famous". And like Hayward, once again, one guest after another began asking Dave when a Shack might come to their neighborhood. These requests, over weeks and months, came to fuel a dream of a Famous Dave's expansion across America!
Growing up in the windy city called "Sweet Home Chicago", Dave realized there isn't anything better than great barbeque and some good ol' down home blues-Chicago style! In September 1996, Famous Dave's BBQ & Blues opened in Calhoun Square at Lake St. and Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis. Modeled after a street in Chicago,the "true- to-life" blues club was complete with an overhead-elevated train track with sound and visual effects! In order to achieve the "realism" Dave desired, he engaged the talents of a design company whose credits include work on numerous movie sets including "Grumpy Old Men". A smashing success from its opening, the blues club continues to feature booty-shakin' and foot stompin' blues from both local and national blues acts. This landmark Club, Famous Dave's BBQ & Blues, has won awards for "Best Music", "Best Blues Vocalist", "Best Restaurant Design", and "Best Take-Out Menu". If you love eatin' ribs 'til the sauce runs down your elbows while shakin' your butt to some of the best live blues music anywhere in the country, this is the place to be.
In November 1995, Famous Dave's was named 1st place winner for its Rich & Sassy barbeque sauce at the American Royal Barbecue Sauce Contest in Kansas City, Missouri—the largest and most prestigious barbeque contest in the world! Mpls./St.Paul Magazine followed in December by naming Famous Dave's the Best BBQ Joint. Since then, famous Dave's has won one award after another including Greatest Ribs in America, Greatest Sauce in America, Best New Restaurant, Best Dessert, and Dave himself was named "Restauranteur of the Year". At the 1999 Great American Rib Cookoff, where several hundred thousands of people attend to eat great ribs, Dave and his team won another Greatest Ribs in America award!
From Fargo, to Cleveland, to Chicago, to Kansas City, to the Twin Cities and many other cities, the Famous Dave's national rib cooking team has brought home the bacon and more first place trophies than the Chicago Bulls! Dave's commitment to always being the best is constantly being honed through competitive rib cook-offs with the top championship pitmasters in the country. These ribfests, which attract hundreds of thousands of BBQ fans, feature hundreds of rib cookers all competing for thousands of dollars in prize monies and braggin' rights of being the "Best of the Best". Dave's first place trophies can be found displayed in his restaurants. Next time you're eating ribs in another restaurant ask to see their trophies!
Dave understands you can't wind up with the best-tasting barbequed ribs if you don't start with the best quality raw product — the St.Louis sparerib. Unlike cheaper quality cuts of ribs you find in most places, this rib is the best available —Dave's spec then takes it a couple steps further to ensure the ribs you get are the tenderest and meatiest possible. First, the less-than-tender piece of meat on the underside of the rib, called the skirt, is trimmed away. And second, Dave insists on a slab of ribs of more than 2-1/2 pound plus rather than the commonly used 1-3/4 quarter pounders. This large slab of ribs has gained Famous Dave's the national distinction of being the "Home of the Big Slab!" Dave's unusual attention to details is legendary in the meat industry. As one story goes, late one Sunday night, with his car filled with boxes of ribs that did not meet his strict specs, Dave drove all the way to Chicago so that he could personally return them to the supplier. All meat suppliers are personally trained by Dave, even the butchers on their cutting lines. It costs a bit more for this level of quality, but take one look, and especially one bite, and you'll taste the difference of a Famous Dave's rib.
Dave's commitment to quality doesn't end with high quality products but actually starts with the commitment to train team members so that they can serve you the best dang barbeque in the country! Hog Heaven University is Famous Dave's intensive 10 week training program for managers that ends with them being recognized as certified Famous Dave's Pitmasters. Only Trained Pitmasters are allowed to prepare Dave's award winning ribs. Training is also an on-going daily commitment at each Famous Dave's where performance is constantly challenged and improved in order to "WOW!" you with the best possible service and the best tasty food in the country!
Dave insists that the same attention and caring that goes into the barbeque, goes into the side fixins and desserts. The marinated country roast chicken is so tasty your lips will feel like Mick Jagger's. You'll like honey-buttered corn bread muffins that melt in your mouth, creamy coleslaw that's better than all the rest, and Wilbur beans made from our smoked brisket and sausage with a spicy kick from jalapeno peppers. Dave's tasty salads and burgers are the best in town. And when it comes to desserts, it's time to loosen the belt, take a deep breath, and keep on goin' with absolutely to-die-for homemade delights. All served the way Dave likes 'em —BIG— with ice cream and whipped cream to-boot, right out of the oven. Eating at Famous Dave's is a real mouth full of hollers! With food so tasty it's guaranteed to shoot sparks from your mouth!
You'd think that with all the attention Davegives to the quality of his barbeque, side fixins, and desserts, he'd be satisfied. Nope. Dave's a firm believer in "total dining experience". One in which atmosphere could never be an "after-thought". From the moment you walk through the door you'll know that you're in some place special. And then you'll hear booty shakin', foot stompin' songs playing that have been carefully hand-picked by Dave from his collection of over 3,000 CD's. Together, the decor and music are designed to entertain, make you smile, and make you feel as though you've left the rest of the world behind. Good ol' fashioned hospitality will make you feel that you've just been treated to an experience at Famous Dave's reminiscent of a good ol' backyard barbeque — with the best of food and the best of friends.