BBQ Holdings Saw Big Revenue Gain After Acquiring Other Restaurants
Rendering of a Famous Dave’s “Quick ‘Que” restaurant, which will feature a line-service model like Chipotle and other restaurants.

BBQ Holdings Saw Big Revenue Gain After Acquiring Other Restaurants

The parent of Famous Dave's logged a 45.3 percent gain in revenue last year.
Rendering of a Famous Dave’s “Quick ‘Que” restaurant, which will feature a line-service model like Chipotle and other restaurants.

The pandemic year of 2020 was one of the toughest ever for restaurants everywhere.

So how exactly did Minnetonka-based BBQ Holdings Inc. – the company long known as Famous Dave’s – report a 45.3 percent gain in annual revenue for 2020?

Even though restaurant sales were down, BBQ Holdings now has more restaurants under its umbrella. The strong increase was driven by the company’s acquisition of 18 Granite City brewpub locations and two other restaurants. BBQ Holdings closed in March 2020 on the acquisition of the Granite City assets for $3.65 million, just slightly more than $200,000 per location.

BBQ Holdings reported sales of $121.4 million for 2020 and even posted a net profit of $4.3 million. The company’s numbers were helped by recording a $13.2 million “gain on bargain purchase.” It acquired Granite City at a deep discount, buying the assets out of bankruptcy.

It acquired the Real Urban BBQ brand in March 2020, shortly after closing the Granite City deal. Real Urban BBQ has one location in the Chicago suburbs. The company also owns Clark Crew BBQ which has one location in Oklahoma City.

As more and more people are getting vaccine shots and government shutdowns are being curtailed, the company is already seeing a good uptick in business this year.

“As we begin to emerge from the state regulations caused by the pandemic, we are beginning to see sales ramp up to levels at or above pre-pandemic levels. During the month of March when sales increased 43.9% at Famous Dave’s and 60.8% at Granite City, we were able to generate record store-level EBITDA [Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization],” said Jeff Crivello, CEO of BBQ Holdings, in a statement. “Given our most recent performance in Q1, we are feeling very positive about 2021 and what it means for all our stakeholders.”

Same store sales for 2020 were down 8.5 percent in company-owned Famous Dave’s locations and down 17 percent in franchise-operated locations. Same store sales at Granite City locations were down 38.6 percent for the year. The company’s numbers show that it lost $11.2 million on its 2020 operations.

But on the flip side, to-go sales increased 72.6 percent for a year in which everyone learned the definition of “curbside.” The company opened seven ghost kitchens within Granite City locations and plans to add an eighth this month.

BBQ Holdings has long been a struggling company with lots of C-suite turnover. But some of its recent moves are making it look like a growth company.

In October, the company inked a 25-unit development deal with Austin, Texas-based Bluestone Hospitality Group to open new locations across the U.S.

Now it’s rolling out two locations of its new “Quick ‘Que” concept in Las Vegas and Salt Lake City. The Salt Lake City outlet will offer the chain’s first-ever drive-thru. The Las Vegas location will feature a line-serve model like Chipotle and many other restaurants.

According to the company’s announcement, “Both restaurant models boast small footprints with the goal of a quicker experience for guests and a more cost-effective business for operators.”

The company is planning to open five Quick ‘Que locations in 2021.

The company changed the name of its holding company to BBQ Holdings Inc. in September 2019. BBQ Holdings now touts itself as a “multi-brand restaurant company;” Famous Dave’s is the largest of those.

Crivello was named CEO of what was then Famous Dave’s of America Inc. in November 2017. Now more than three years into his job, he already ranks among the longest-serving CEOs in company history.