When Dave Anderson opened a little barbecue shack in 1994 on Sawyer County’s Round Lake, the waterfront business gained a quick and strong following. In two decades, those efforts grew into a web of almost 200 down-home restaurants in 34 states, Puerto Rico and Canada.
Now Famous Dave’s and the founding father are going through major changes in Wisconsin’s Northwoods, but they are on two paths, not one.
Gone is the Original Famous Dave’s, destroyed by fire in November 2014 and next to Grand Pines Resort, nine miles east of Hayward. The restaurant, part of the Famous Dave’s web, has not yet been rebuilt.
Dave has cut ties with the barbecue empire and in mid April, shortly after expiration of a one-year non-compete pact, opened Jimmie’s Old Southern BBQ Smokehouse. The new restaurant, in downtown Hayward, is all about slow-smoked meats but the recipes are new. You order at the counter, the menu is smaller and seating is more communal than at the typical Famous Dave’s.
There also is a pretty good chance that, if you arrive late enough, some menu choices will be sold out. That was the deal with barbecue ribs during my recent weekday evening visit, and judging from Facebook posts, it certainly wasn’t the first time this happened.
Ribs, pulled pork, brisket, chicken and hot links (a smoked sausage) are the meat choices, served as sandwiches, tacos, barbecue bowls (layered with your choice of starches, meat and toppings) or simply meat served with sides (the 10 choices include barbecue rice and broccoli salad). Cornbread appears as muffin tops. In a refrigerator case are smoked meats for heat-and-eat purchase later.
The new restaurant is named after Jimmie Anderson, Dave’s father, the guy who instilled a love for southern cooking and emphasized the importance of using quality ingredients when cooking.
“Famous Dave’s got to be a big corporate publicly traded company – which means I don’t own it. The public does,” Dave told the Sawyer County Record. “So I really had nothing to leave my family, to show for all the effort I had over the years in becoming one of America’s best barbecue pit masters.”
He describes Jimmie’s as a family-run business that involves son James, nephews and other relatives. How fast it grows, and where, is anybody’s guess. Fans from Minnesota’s Twin Cities already are clamoring online for a Jimmie’s to open there.
Jimmie’s Old Southern BBQ Smokehouse, 15768 U.S. 63, Hayward, is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. The next location to open is SouthRidge Center, 2500 Main St., Rice Lake. oldsouthernbbq.com, 715-558-7488
Where else can you get great food in the Hayward area? Check out these choices, for starters.
Angry Minnow Brew Pub, 10440 Florida Ave.: River Pig Pale Ale and other fresh brews fill pint glasses and growlers inside a classy, restored, brick building that housed a lumber company’s offices in 1889. Add an Angry German burger (with kraut, onion relish, candied bacon), fish tacos with jalapeno slaw or Angry Pretzels, made with the brewery’s spent grain. angryminnow.com, 715-934-3055
Chippewa Inn, 9702 Hwy. B: German entrees – schnitzels, pork shanks, sausages – served with potato pancakes or spaetzle are longtime specialties that supplement traditional and hearty supper club fare near the Chippewa Flowage. All dinners begin with a relish tray that includes house-made liver pate, marinated olives, creamy cheese spread and herring. chippewainnsupperclub.com, 715-462-3648
Farmstead Creamery and Café, 11077 Fullington Rd.: A mom and two daughters take farm-to-table dining to extremes, serving for breakfast and lunch the products of their labors, lamb sausage to fresh eggs. The menu is small but beautiful and from-scratch, including bakery and (sheep’s milk) gelato. Add pizzas from the outdoor brick oven, served Thursday and Saturday evenings. northstarhomestead.net, 715-462-3453
Norske Nook, 10436 Hwy. 27: No commercial pie maker in Wisconsin wins more national awards than this Osseo-based restaurant-baker, whose locations include Hayward. The business has won 41 blue ribbons for pie in 10 years. Also popular: Norwegian meatball dinners, or order them rolled up with mashed potatoes in lefse, and drench with gravy. Uff-da! norskenook.com, 715-634-4928
Tally Ho Supper Club, 10432 Hwy. 77: Chef Susan Birkey, a trained nutritionist, gets imaginative and organic in this rural setting. Expect elegant, gourmet selections: roasted duck with plum sauce, walleye with lemon-caper remoulade, rib-eye steak with gorgonzola-stuffed portabella mushrooms. Call ahead to alert her about special dietary needs; she is delighted to oblige. tallyhosupperclub.com, 715-462-3646
Wine Cave and Courtyard, 10551 Main St.: Hundreds of wines and liquor, for the discriminating palate, are stocked in the basement. Live music occasionally wafts from the intimate Danger Stage upstairs, and now the courtyard accommodates gluten-free and other diners with creative flair. Culinary surprises include East Meets West: a chicken salad with cucumbers, Asian pears, a sesame dressing and garnish of seaweed squares. Not your average Northwoods grub. haywardwinecave.com, 715-634-3923