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New franchisee signs on to Famous Dave’s project

The city of Cottage Grove announced this week that there is a new leaseholder in the Famous Dave's project. The signing on of a new franchisee, Economic Development Director Danette Parr said, is a promising step in the completion of the building. (Bulletin photo by Emily Buss)

Barbecue and cornbread might be back on the menu in Cottage Grove after a new franchisee emerged in the on-again, off-again Famous Dave’s project.

Economic Development Director Danette Parr said this week the new franchisee has signed a lease with Shea Distributing, the owner of the former Kentucky Fried Chicken property, and that the news is promising.

“At some point folks will be eating ribs,” City Administrator Ryan Schroeder said. “We’re just not sure when that is.”

While a tentative open date or the name of the franchisee was not revealed, Parr said the prognosis is “looking good.”

Representatives for Shea Distributing could not be reached for comment.

The property, located at 8479 East Point Douglas Road, has sat idle since March after crews finished installing awnings and silver sheet metal to the building’s exterior.

The former franchisee, Dave Von Rueden, struggled to finance the renovation of the 3,000-square-foot building which delayed the project several times. In April, Von Rueden quietly announced via the restaurant answering machine message that the project was put on hold indefinitely.

Parr said in April the city was aware Von Rueden was experiencing “project financing difficulties,” and said he was having regular conversations with Shea Distributing. However, a deal was never made.

Plans for the building include a 50- to 60-seat dining area, a drive-thru window and outdoor smoker oven.