The orignal Famous Dave’s BBQ restaurant burned to the ground early this morning, according to the Sawyer County Record.
Three separate fire departments near Hayward, in Northwest Wisconsin, were notified of the fire around 4:30 a.m. The caller indicated that the bar area of the original Famous Dave’s was smoking and flames were visible. By the time the three fire departments arrived, they noted that the entire building was engulfed in flames and no one was within the burning building.
The city of Hayward’s fire ladder truck was reportedly used to spray water down onto the building, while three other departments from the Town of Hayward, the Town of Round Lake, and an arriving department from Lac Courte Oreilles fought the fire and provided support from the ground. Fire department water tankers were filled from the nearby Round Lake Marina and the Wisconsin State Fire Marshall was notified.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that the CEO of the Famous Dave’s franchise said that the original Famous Dave’s building had “burned to the ground,” indicating that the result of the fire was a total loss.
“It burned to the ground. It was a very old building, and it’s totally destroyed.”
CEO Ed Rensi said the general manager reported to work this morning and realized that part of the building was on fire. The general manager was the one who called 911.
Ever since Dave Anderson opened the original Famous Dave’s in 1994, the restaurant has been extremely popular with locals and tourists. The restaurant, in its pastoral Northwest Wisconsin setting, was one of the most photographed restaurants in the state. A franchise spawned off of the original, and there are now Famous Dave’s nationwide from California to Maryland.
Dave Anderson, now retired and living in Nashville, Tennessee, still helps out with the franchise. He commented on the fire earlier today.
“At 4:30 AM I was awakened by a call that my first restaurant, the Original Famous Dave’s in Hayward WI, was ablaze. Twenty years of memories. We will rebuild.”
In a 2012 interview with the Star Tribune, Anderson commented on the local reaction when he opened the first Famous Dave’s.
“People in Hayward asked, ‘Are you nuts?’ There are only 1,800 people in town and they are all Norwegians and Swedes. But I would tell those naysayers that there was no question in my mind that I was going to build the best BBQ joint in town… the best ribs, best chicken, best honey-buttered cornbread, coleslaw, baked beans… and by the end of that summer… we were serving 4,000 to 5,000 people a week… from Minneapolis, Chicago, Milwaukee and Green Bay.”
The current CEO Ed Rensi stated that in light of the fire, Famous Dave’s in Hayward would immediately set up a “restaurant on the go” using tents, supplies, and food so that employees could count on their jobs moving into the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons.
The cause of the fire at the original Famous Dave’s remains under investigation.
[Image via the Sawyer County Register]