Famous Dave's of America, the Minneapolis-based, 186-unit full-service barbecue and restaurant concept, is rolling out its first fast casual unit -- Famous Dave's BBQ Shack – that can launch in virtually any retail space, Victor Salamone, vice president of franchise operations and development, said in a press release.

"Flexibility is the key word. Franchisee operators and customers alike desire flexibility in food, build-out and experience," he said, noting that Shacks will fill in existing markets and allow Famous Dave's to convert smaller box restaurants for operators that do not have BBQ in their portfolio of brands. "We took our great product, menu and style into a smaller 3,000-square-foot model so that we can expand into stronger A-tier real estate when it becomes readily available."

Additionally, Salamone said Famous Dave's will use the new Shack to build ballooned brand awareness throughout existing markets that have a small footprint of 5,000-square-foot full-service locations.

"This will allow us to go from having only a few locations, to double digit locations throughout markets," Salamone said. "We have tested and proven this model around existing Dave's in our home base, and now we are ready to explore opening these high volume, smaller footprint models in emerging markets, specifically in the Southeast and internationally."

Shack locations offer the Famous Dave's tradition of smoking handcrafted meats on premise in addition to many of the award-winning dishes found in Famous Dave's full-service restaurant locations, Salamone said. In addition to pick-up windows that allow customers who have pre-ordered to grab their barbecue and go, Shack locations also offer catering options.

The launch of the Shack comes on the heels of a momentum building 2011, when Famous Dave's opened more than a restaurant per month, as it continued its steady expansion, focusing on building brand awareness in emerging markets. Additionally, Famous Dave's kept its corporate development focus by maintaining an active ratio to franchised locations (the company owns 53 locations and franchises 133 additional units in 35 states).

"The last year has been one of organic growth and change for Famous Dave's," said Brett Larrabee, director of Franchise Sales and Development. "Along with changing our formats and evolving our processes to become more in tune for growth, we offer multiple restaurant models that have the right return on investment to allow for growth."

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