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Cottage Grove Famous Dave’s sets January opening

After more than a year since it was supposed to open, the on-again, off-again Famous Dave’s project is slated for completion in early January. (Bulletin photo by Scott Wente)

Barbecue will soon be cooking in Cottage Grove.

The perpetually stalled Famous Dave’s project, which began more than a year ago, ramped up construction last month and is planning a Jan. 13 opening.

Pat and Tim Buffman, franchisees for the chain barbecue restaurant for the last decade, signed on in November to complete the project which was shut down in April after a former franchisee encountered financing problems.

“I think a lot of people have heard ‘Yeah, maybe’ enough,” Pat Buffman said Friday. “But now we can say that yes, we are opening.”

The Buffman’s have contracted with Rocky Radmann of Shoreview-based Broadview Builders to finish construction on the building, which was formerly a Kentucky Fried Chicken. Roughly 75 percent of the restaurant was complete before they took over, Pat said, but some changes are in the works.

“We have a lot to do yet,” Pat said. “We’re changing up the design to make it more of an urban feel and when everyone comes in they will love it.”

A different color palette will help bring out the barbecue flair, she added, and the use of galvanized steel, metal chairs and floating windows will open up the interior.

An outdoor smoker has been installed, a concept Pat said is used at other Famous Dave’s locations in the Twin Cities.

Original plans called for a 50- to 60-seat dining room but the Buffman’s are maximizing space to allow for a 70-seat dining room.

“When we came in we could have decorated a little bit and had it finished, but we wanted some additional equipment and had to finish the dining room,” Pat said.

With the holiday season, she added, work slowed.

“But we are working with a great general contractor that is keeping people on task.”

Once open, the restaurant will have counter-service for fast lunches and serve customers through the existing drive-thru. At night, the restaurant will facilitate full-service dining.

“We call it flex service,” Pat said. “We’re really excited about the new design.”

On Friday, Jan. 10, and Saturday, Jan. 11, the restaurant will host a family and friends event, which Pat said will benefit the St. Paul Park Friends in Need Food Shelf.

Hired staff will have the opportunity to serve their friends and family in an informal run-through, Pat said, prior to opening.

“This is kind of hometown territory for Famous Dave’s and we want to make sure that all our franchises are part of the community,” she added. “We’re asking the friends and family bring contributions to the food shelf.”

Passersby might even see a giant flying pig when it gets closer to opening night, Pat said, as a reminder to residents that they are, indeed, opening.

The Buffman’s have a long history with the Famous Dave’s franchise. Pat, a former real estate agent, and Tim, a longtime contractor, were instrumental in assisting founder Dave Anderson acquire the first Famous Dave’s property in Linden Hills in 1993.

The duo are also the current franchisees of the Mall of America location and were longtime equity partners at the Rochester and Duluth restaurants.

“We really love the Famous Dave’s brand,” Pat said. “This is a fabulous company that we think Cottage Grove would really like to have. We’re very excited to bring Famous Dave’s to this community.”

The hiring process begins Sunday and those interested in work are asked to visit the Cottage Grove Famous Dave’s, 8479 East Point Douglas Road, to fill out an application. The restaurant is filling all positions -- both front and back of the house workers, and prep and line cooks.