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Famous Dave's to open first 'fast casual' in Illinois

By Laura Bollin

A popular restaurant chain that claims to offer the taste of authentic barbecue will open a first-of-its-kind eatery later this month in Evergreen Park.

Famous Dave’s Legendary Pit Bar-B-Que plans to open Nov. 19 at 2855 W. 95th St. The location will be the chain’s first “fast, casual” restaurant in Illinois. Diners will be able to order at a counter and take their food to go, or sit at one of the tables in the 3,600-square-foot dining area. The restaurant will not feature wait staff, according to general manager Andre Pleasance, who said the company is hoping to appeal to diners who live and work in an urban environment by giving them the option of quick barbecue.

“Some people want to take their food to go and bring it home, and we have a few locations like this in Minnesota that are doing very well,” Pleasance said.

The restaurant will have a rustic shack look, with rusted corrugated metal and wood accents.

“Blues music will be playing when you walk in the door,” Pleasance said. “We want this to be like having good friends over for a backyard barbecue. When they come over, you greet them with a smile, take their coat, show them around, point out where the bathrooms are, show them where the beer is, and show them where the barbecue is — that’s what we like to do here.”

Famous Dave’s chose Evergreen Park as the site of the new store because there are not many barbecue places in the area, Pleasance said.

“The closest Famous Dave’s was in Orland Park [15657 S. Harlem Ave.] or in North Riverside, and people wanted one that was closer to the city,” he explained. “Evergreen Park is a close knit community, and they’ve been very welcoming. We can’t wait to be a part of everything that is going on.”

Seventy-five percent of the employees hired to work at the restaurant are Evergreen Park residents, Pleasance said. The restaurant ultimately expects to have 70 employees, he added.

Famous Dave’s plans to partner with Little Company of Mary Hospital for a breast cancer fundraiser in the future, he said.

Famous Dave’s will offer oneand two-meat dishes — along with one or two sides for their meals — including St. Louis style spareribs, baby back ribs and Texas brisket. Sides will include macaroni and cheese spiced with jalapenos, and Wilbur baked beans, the latter named for the chain’s pig mascot. Beer and wine will also be available.

Famous Dave’s, whose founder Dave Anderson hails from the West Side of Chicago, also offers “Southside rib tips.” Anderson began developing his barbecue recipes while he was living in Hayward, Wisc., where the first restaurant opened, Pleasance said.

The chain’s famous “All American Feast” featuring a full slab of St. Louis-style ribs, a whole chicken, a half-pound of either Texas beef brisket or Georgia chopped pork, coleslaw, fries, Wilbur beans, four pieces of corn on the cob, and four cornbread muffins will also be sold at the Evergreen location.

“The feast is served on a garbage can lid,” Pleasance said. “When Dave was first cooking, he would put his meat in the bottom of a barrel, smoke it, and cover it with a lid. Then, he’d flip the lid over and serve the food on the lid.”