Famous Dave's of America is a chain of barbecue restaurants serving pork ribs, chicken, beef brisket, and several flavors of barbecue sauce. Dave Anderson, an Ojibwe who served as the head of the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs from 2004 to 2005, started the first Famous Dave's restaurant near Hayward, Wisconsin in 1994. The restaurant chain grew throughout the Midwestern United States, and Puerto Rico in 2014. It has 170 locations in 34 U.S. states as of 2016.
The first restaurant of the chain was Famous Dave's Bar-B-Que in Hayward, Wisconsin. On the morning of November 3, 2014, it was destroyed by fire. The second location was in the Linden Hills neighborhood of Minneapolis, Minnesota; that location opened in 1995 and was designed to be an old-fashioned "roadside BBQ Shack"; it closed in 2014. The third location opened in 1996 in the Calhoun Square development in Uptown Minneapolis and was designed as a Blues club, Famous Dave's BBQ & Blues, which remains in operation; a "Lodge" format opened in Minnetonka, Minnesota; and the first franchise-operated restaurant opened in Burnsville, Minnesota.
In 1986, Anderson earned a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Harvard University, without earning an undergraduate degree.
In 1994, he was one of the first investors in Rainforest Café, a theme restaurant chain, and in October 1994, Dave Anderson opened the first Famous Dave’s in Hayward, Wisconsin.