bannerFranchisor Stories

Famous Dave’s New Menu Launch Yields Plenty of Tasty Revenue Options for Franchisees

Cheese Curds and Build-Your-Own-Burger are two recent - and popular - additions to the Famous Dave’s menu.

By Cristina Merrill1851 Franchise Contributor
SPONSORED 10:10AM 04/16/19

Famous Dave’s had a major menu update in October 2018, and the menu additions are already proving to be a boost for the barbecue brand.

Famous Dave’s works hard to meet consumer trends while also remaining a financially viable option for its franchisee system. For these reasons, the brand goes through two menu updates each year, with one update focused on making small tweaks and adjustments while the other is focused more around product offerings.

And those new products are very thoroughly tested.

The October 2018 menu was tested at the brand’s Coon Rapids, Minnesota location. Between 25 to 30 menu items were tested during the months of March, April, May and June.

“The menu being tested was a founder’s-inspired menu,” Famous Dave’s Head of Culinary  Sylvia Matzke-Hill said. “The goal was to make the menu more relevant for today. We chose the top items and offered them as options for franchisees to add to the October menu, which launched on October 29, 2018.”

What made this particular round of testing unique was that four particular menu items were added to menus across the entire franchise system. Those four items were cheese curds, hand-breaded chicken tenders, a three-meat combo that allows customers to choose three of their favorite meat options and a Build-Your-Own-Burger. All four tested so well that they were determined to be financially viable at any Famous Dave’s restaurant in the country.

“This testing was about validating the menu and the products and making sure they create a valuable guest experience and would be a good fit for the menu,” Matzke-Hill said.

Testing also yielded a list of optional menu items. These optional items included Smoked Jalapeño Cheddar Sausage and smoked turkey, which are served in a variety of menu items. Company stores, however, went all in with the optional items and the brand has seen good sales from those, according to Matzke-Hill. A number of the brand’s franchisees opted into the optional menu items as well.

“The whole idea behind the founder-inspired menu was to increase the depth of our product offering and be more relevant to trends such as smoked turkey, which is a lighter option and something that’s a little bit different,” Matzke-Hill said. “We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback on the turkey and sausage additions.”

Other optional items that were introduced after the menu testing included a Brussels sprouts side dish, an apple crisp dessert and a shareable sampler with cheese and sausage and crackers.

“There were things we received very positive feedback on that were on-trend and on-brand,” Matzke-Hill said.

Also, Famous Dave’s implemented a system-wide menu design update, marking the first time that the brand’s entire franchise system has the same menu design.

The menu testing did yield some surprising results. The hand-breaded chicken tenders, which Matzke-Hill described as being “fantastic,” have turned out to be a very popular menu item.   

“The biggest surprise is the acceptance of the cheese curds,” Matzke-Hill said. “This more traditionally Midwestern food turned out to be a really popular menu item where acceptance was nationwide.”

Famous Dave’s is still in the process of analyzing sales information from the October menu launch, but the benefits are already coming to light.

“From a development perspective, it’s beneficial to bring in items, such as smoked turkey, that give us the opportunity to enhance the menu down the road,” Matzke-Hill said.

With such a thorough and extensive menu testing system, Famous Dave’s is proving how it plans to remain a delicious option for customers and a profitable opportunity for franchisees.

“We are bringing in things to stay on trend and we are continuing to evolve on a daily basis,” Matzke-Hill said. “We’re always working to enhance the brand through a culinary lens. There’s a balance between how many items you have on the menu to satisfy the guest and financial viability. It’s about staying relevant but also operationally executable.”

The startup costs for a Famous Dave’s franchise start at $45,000. The franchise fee is $10,000. To learn more about franchising with Famous Dave’s, visit