The man behind the BBQ

Famous Dave Anderson
Famous Dave Anderson

Famous Dave is all around us — his restaurants (from Uptown to the burbs); on the street (with catering vans emblazoned with that smiling pink piglet); at Costco and Menards, where Famous Dave’s pickles and barbecue sauce are available by the gallon; and even on the radio with commercials inviting us to indulge in ribs.

But who exactly is this man — and longtime Minnesota icon — otherwise known as Dave Anderson?

It turns out, he’s a truly fascinating guy, who until recently had completely cut ties with his namesake barbecue chain — a struggling enterprise, yet an American institution.

So where is America’s Rib King now?

He’s actually reunited with Famous Dave’s (serving as a brand consultant and ambassador).

And he’s opened a brand new chain of fast-casual restaurants, under the name of Old Southern Barbecue, an homage to his Oklahoma-born father, Jimmie.

In this issue, Dave gets personal about his life’s triumphs and struggles, too.

I was surprised to learn Minnesota’s most famous foodie served during the George W. Bush administration as assistant secretary of the Department of the Interior for Indian Affairs, responsible for a $2 billion budget and 10,000 employees.

And that’s in addition to numerous other government, tribal, nonprofit and corporate positions in which he thrived. (And did you know Dave’s very first business was a floral operation in Chicago?)

These days, Dave’s coming full circle back to his entrepreneurial roots to compete in a thriving Twin Cities restaurant scene, including more than 50 barbecue restaurants.

Like any good businessman, however, Dave has reinvented himself time after time.

I hope both his barbecue endeavors can thrive.

Dave — who at 64 has lived through enough to know — believes if there’s a will, there’s a way: “There isn’t anything that can’t be overcome if you never, ever give up on your dreams.”

And, indeed, Famous Dave is proof of that.

– Sarah Jackson, Editor