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Famous Dave's to try delivery-only format

The casual chain is looking at kitchen-only formats after shrinking the size and tweaking the back of house of its conventional stores.

The Famous Dave’s full-service barbecue chain is “exploring” the launch of delivery-only formats measuring less than a fifth of the size of the brand’s conventional stores, the company said in an update yesterday on its turnaround strategy.

The delivery-only alternatives would offer both small-order delivery and catering. The franchisor said the stores would measure 500 to 800 square feet, compared with the 5,000-square-foot footprint of a regular store.

Delivery would presumably be provided by a third party. Yesterday’s announcement noted that franchisees are currently adding the services of an outside delivery specialist, after adding the option at all company stores last summer.

Shrinking the size of its restaurants and vying for a share of the delivery market have been two key components of Famous Dave’s turnaround effort. In January, the 151-unit chain opened a slimmed-down full-service format in Texas. The prototype features a “tighter” and more efficient kitchen, according to the company.

It has also invested in online ordering.

Famous Dave’s did not respond to a request for additional information about the delivery-only venture.

It has experimented in the past with a fast-casual variation on its traditional stores, abandoning the effort after  sales of the core concept dropped steeply several years ago.

The operation is the latest casual-dining chain to ditch seats as a way of bringing down occupancy costs and capitalizing on the off-premise sales boom. Red Robin now has five delivery-only stores, and Outback Steakhouse parent Bloomin' Brands intends to have eight takeout-and-delivery-only Outback & Carrabba's Express units in operation by year's end.

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