Famous Dave's CEO John Gilbert resigns after 18 months


Famous Dave's, the Minnetonka-based barbecue franchise, announced yesterday that CEO John Gilbert has resigned after 18 months with the company.

Ed Rensi, the former president of McDonald's, has been chosen as Famous Dave's interim chief executive officer in Gilbert's place. Rensi served as the president and chief executive of McDonald's for six years before founding the Chicago-based burger chain Tom & Eddies.

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"I have been a customer and a fan of Famous Dave's for 20 years and I am delighted to lead Famous Dave's for the foreseeable future," Rensi said in a statement. "Dave Anderson [the company's namesake] has been a professional friend of mine for a long time. Dave and his barbecue are iconic and I look forward to working with him and the Famous Dave's team on this great brand to unleash all of its potential."

Gilbert was chosen as CEO following a year-long stint on Famous Dave's board of directors. Prior to that, he served as the CEO of the Vermont Teddy Bear Company. Gilbert's reasons for leaving Famous Dave's have yet to be revealed, but board chairman Dean Riesen told the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal that he thought Gilbert would be the CEO for a long time and was surprised by his departure.

Despite Gilbert's departure, Riesen said the company still plans to release fourth quarter and 2013 results on schedule, following the market close on February 12. He noted that Famous Dave's revenue has increased by about $444,000 in the past year.

Famous Dave's of America Inc. currently owns 52 locations and franchises another 142 in 34 states, Puerto Rico, and a province of Canada. The first restaurant was opened in Hayward, Wisconsin, in 1994 by Dave Anderson, the former assistant secretary of the interior for Indian Affairs.

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