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Famous Dave’s posts a traffic jump

But sales at franchised locations continue to slump as the barbecue chain seeks to boost its off-premise operations.
Photograph: Shutterstock

Famous Dave's discovered the secret sauce at its company-operated restaurants in the fourth quarter of 2018, driving up traffic 6.3% for a 2.2% rise in same-store sales. But franchised stores– the bulk of the system by farcontinued to struggle, according to company earnings results released Monday.

The Minneapolis-based barbecue chain’s total revenue rose 7.2% to $13.4 million for the quarter ending Dec. 30, 2018. 

Same-store sales dipped 1.5% at franchised locations during the period.

Total results for all of 2018, however, were less positive, with revenue down 15% from the previous year. Famous Dave’s executives attributed the decline to the closure of eight company-owned restaurants since early 2017.

“During fiscal 2018, our team completed many initiatives designed to drive traffic to our stores and refresh our brand value proposition,” CEO Jeff Crivello said in a statement. “We launched a new menu [and] a loyalty program with a mobile app, deployed additional optimization technologies in restaurants and continued to test initiatives aimed at maximizing restaurant efficiency. We believe that further training and operational efficiency surrounding the new menu will improve food costs as a percentage of restaurant sales, net, in fiscal 2019.”

Famous Dave’s is largely franchisee-operated, with 17 company-owned stores and 124 franchise locations in the U.S. and internationally.

The company said late last year that it was considering building on its off-premise strategy by opening delivery-only concepts based out of its existing kitchens.

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