BBQ Chain Names New CEO

A steakhouse exec takes over Famous Dave’s as it struggles to attract customers and investors.

Minneapolis Star Tribune:

With earnings falling, a recession looming and consumers acting skittish over the weakening economy, Famous Dave’s of America Inc. named a new chief executive officer Monday. Wilson L. Craft, 54, became the second official CEO to head the Eden Prairie-based barbecue chain since company founder Dave Anderson stepped aside in 2003.

Craft, currently the executive vice president of operations for Longhorn Steakhouse, a 300-unit chain based in Atlanta, Ga., replaces board member F. Lane Cardwell, Jr., who had served as interim CEO since the Dec. 13 departure of David Goronkin. Goronkin left to take the CEO job at Redstone American Grill.

Craft‘s experience working with franchises, which account for three-fourths of the chain’s 164 restaurants and which have posted weaker results of late than company-owned restaurants, makes him particularly well-suited for the job, said Nicole Miller Regan, an analyst with Piper Jaffray. ‘That’s critical to the Famous Dave‘s story. It’s sort of the bread and butter of the company and it’s their growth vehicle,’ she said.

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