Business Matters: Famous Dave’s Offers Vegan BBQ
Since its founding in 1994, Famous Dave’s has served up award-winning barbecue, like its St. Louis-style ribs or Texas beef brisket. Now a quarter century later, Famous Dave’s is doing something new on the menu.
“It is a very interesting time at Famous Dave’s,” said KC Glaser, director of marketing at Famous Dave’s. “There’s a lot going on and we’re exited about that.”
At Famous Dave’s in Maple Grove, the favorite recipes remain, but its menu now includes barbecue entrees that aren’t meat at all. New plant-based protein options currently found at nine Twin Cities locations came at the request of customers, said Glaser.
“It took us by surprise a little bit, but when you look at the macro trends of what’s going on, you’re seeing it all over the place,” Glaser said.
Four Plant-based Protein Options
Famous Dave’s will test four plant-based options thanks to a partnership with California-based Beyond Meat. Those options include a BBQ vegan bowl, BBQ nachos, BBQ street tacos and a tropical burger.
So why offer vegan at a place where customers typically salivate for barbecue meat?
“Anyone that is a vegan can eat any of these items, but we are also trying to appeal to a flexitarian guest,” said Glaser. “There are 70 percent of consumers who say, at least one day a week, they’re trying to cut meat out of their diet in some way, shape or form. And that be for health reasons, it could be for environmental reasons, but they’re trying to intrinsically kind of make that impact.”
Glaser says Maple Grove was the first Twin Cities location to roll out the new plant-based options.
“To our knowledge, there aren’t other barbecue concepts that are launching these plant-based proteins,” Glaser said.
Options Put to the Test
Syliva Matzke-Hill, culinary director at Famous Dave’s, says they put the Beyond Meat options to the test at the company’s Minnetonka headquarters.
“We did some focus groups with people just getting their feedback,” Matzke-Hill said.
Matzke-Hill says there will now be a 60-day test period to see what customers think at the nine Twin Cities locations as well as four other locations in the Denver area.
“If the product works out really well, we will make it as an option and expand it to the rest of the system, probably the beginning of the year, so January of 2020,” said Matzke-Hill.
According to Glaser, the response from customers so far has been positive.
Glaser says he’s heard stories like, “I am so glad I can now come here, or I am so glad I can now bring my mother or my sister or traditionally what we kind of call a ‘veto vote.’
“That doesn’t get rid of the fact that we’re still going to smoke our meats in house everyday. We’re still going to be the place to come to when you want high quality protein.”