(DAVE) Famous Dave’s of America Makes Executive Changes

Yesterday, Famous Dave’s of America Inc. (DAVE) revealed that it has appointed John Gilbert III as the chief executive officer (CEO) with immediate effect. Gilbert replaced Christopher O’Donnell, who will continue with the company as the president and chief operating officer (COO).

Former CEO, O’Donnell has been serving the company for 15 years and had assumed the position of a CEO in 2008 after the six-month tenure of then-CEO Wilson Craft. However, the new CEO, Gilbert has been a board member in Famous Dave for a year. Additionally, he is a board member at Ignite Restaurant Group, the parent company of Joe’s Crab Shack.

Gilbert has donned many important roles in his illustrious career. Previously, he was the president and CEO at Vermont Teddy Bear – a renowned eCommerce retailer – from 2008. Prior to that, he held the post of the chief marketing officer at The TJX Companies Inc. (TJX) – the world’s largest off-price retailer.

With his rich 20 years of experience in the restaurant industry, Gilbert can easily be tagged as a veteran of that sector. A number of leadership positions held at Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc. (DNKN), coupled with an enriching experience with Yum! Brands Inc.‘s (YUM) KFC and TGI Friday’s restaurants also vouch for his expertise.

Considering Gilbert’s vast know-how about leading retailers and restaurateurs, we expect him to provide meaningful support to Famous Dave’s, going forward. Gilbert himself believes that there is immense long-term potential within this barbecue chain.  However, an element of uncertainty will linger till we find some concrete evidence of better brand positioning at the company.

Minnetonka, Minnesota-based Famous Dave’s ownd 53 locations and franchised 133 additional units in 35 states, at the end of the second quarter. Famous Dave’s currently carries a Zacks #3 Rank, implying a short-term Hold rating on the stock. We are maintaining our long-term Neutral recommendation on the stock.
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