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  Anderson, David W. "Famous Dave"
NameDavid W. "Famous Dave" Anderson
, , United States
Born 00, 1953 (68 years)
ContributorThomas Walker
Last ModifedJuan Croniqueur
Nov 30, 2015 06:23pm
Tags Native American -
InfoDave Anderson, a Native American, is an enrolled member of the Chippewa and Choctaw tribes and is the founder of Famous Dave’s of America, recognized as one of the "Hottest Restaurant Concept’s in America" by Nation’s Restaurant News.

Dave is remarkably unique, widely recognized for his extraordinary palate, devotion to detail, and dedication to constant improvement.

In Dave’s own life, he has experienced frustration and bankruptcy as well as tremendous success. He firmly believes God has had His hand over his life. And, Dave believes if it weren’t for other people giving him second chances he would not be where he is today, having founded three publicly traded companies on Wall Street and creating over 18,000 new jobs. He has been awarded a Bush Leadership Fellowship, received a Master’s degree from Harvard University (without having an undergraduate degree), and recognized as “Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year” (in Minnesota and the Dakotas) by Ernst & Young, NASDAQ and USA Today.

Today, Dave devotes himself to making a difference in his community and in the lives of others less fortunate. As an avid public speaker, he shares his optimism and inspiration with youth groups and community organizations, stressing that no matter how tough things may seem today, if you never give up your dream and work hard, tomorrow's rewards will always come.


1971 - Anderson starts first selling business at age 18 and promptly fails.
1972 - Anderson start second business wholesaling plants to florists in the Chicagoland area. By the time he is 21, he secures all Chicagoland Sears stores and every major retail florist account in Chicago...
...and goes bankrupt in 1979.
1977 - Anderson participated in President Carter's Task Force to study "The Problems of Minorities in Small Business," and participated in round table discussions sponsored by the Small Business Administration.
1979 - Anderson joined the sales force of a major Fortune 500 company. In one year he took the last place territory of 12 states to Number One by bringing in over $1,250,000 in sales the last 6 months of the year.
1982 - Anderson was hired to put together a team responsible for turning losing businesses into profitable and stable businesses for the Lac Courte Oreilles Chippewa Reservation. Under his leadership, gross revenues were increased from $3,900,000 to $8,000,000. This effort was recognized by President Reagan's Commission on Indian Reservation Economies.
1983 - Anderson was named to a National Task Force on Reservation Gaming by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C.
1983 - Anderson was appointed to The Council on Minority Business Development for the State of Wisconsin.
1984 - Anderson was appointed to The Wisconsin Council of Tourism.
1985 - Anderson was named a Bush Leadership Fellow by the Bush Foundation, St. Paul, Minnesota, recognizing him for a lifetime of outstanding achievement.
1986 - Anderson earned a Masters Degree in Public Administration from Harvard University at the John F. Kennedy School of Government (without having an undergraduate degree!).
1989 - Anderson formed a management and investment company specializing in emerging gaming markets. In the March, 1997 issue of Fortune Magazine, this company was recognized as "The Fastest Growing Company in America."
1994 - Anderson helped found The Rainforest Cafe, a highly successful restaurant company that was recognized as one of the "Hottest Concepts in America."
1994 - Pursuing his life-long passion, Anderson opened his first Famous Dave's BBQ Shack in Hayward, Wisconsin, on Round Lake. The BBQ Shacks are reminiscent of the old- fashioned BBQ joints popular across the country 50 years ago, featuring slow-smoked ribs along with Dave's own secret recipe BBQ sauces. The restaurant was an instant success, serving up to 8000 people a week in a town of only 1800!
1995 - In October, Famous Dave's BBQ was awarded the Blue Ribbon "Best BBQ Sauce in America" in the mild-sauce division at the prestigious American Royal International Barbecue Contest. In December, Mpls. St. Paul Magazine named Famous Dave's BBQ Shack "Best Barbecue Joint" in the Twin Cities.
1996 - Famous Dave's of America, Inc. announced its Initial Public Offering, opening at $6.25 on the NASDAQ market.
1997 - In May, Nations Restaurant News recognized Famous Dave's restaurants as one of the "Hottest Concepts in America" for originality, and innovation in menu, décor, service, as well as strong consumer approval. In June, Ernst & Young, sponsored by NASDAQ and USA Today, recognized Dave Anderson as Minnesota and Dakota's Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year. The Entrepreneur of the Year program honors and recognizes entrepreneurs who have demonstrated excellence and extraordinary success through innovation, financial performance, and personal commitment to their business and community
1998 - In March, Anderson is named Restaurateur of the Year by Mpls. St. Paul Magazine. In April, Zig Ziglar, world-renowned motivational speaker and author of "See You at the Top," dedicated his "Success for Dummies" book to Dave Anderson. "Success for Dummies" is one of a series of the highly successful "Dummies" books by IDG Books Worldwide, Inc. Dave's "Against All Odds" life story is featured in this best selling book.
January 1999 - In January, the Anderson family established The LifeSkills Center for Leadership fund with a $1,400,000 gift. This fund was created to help disadvantaged Native American youth. In March, Famous Dave's recognized for being in the "Top 10" restaurants out of the "Super 1000" restaurants in Minnesota! Mpls/St. Paul Magazine. Anderson's new cookbook, "Famous Dave's Backroads & Sidestreets", was released with all proceeds being donated to help disadvantaged Native American children. In December, "Famous Dave's Backroads & Sidestreets" wins the National Barbecue Associations "Award of Excellence" for being the "Best New Barbecue/Grill Cookbook!"
2000 - In May, Dave's success story of overcoming major adversities and failures is featured by New York Times best selling author on leadership, John C. Maxwell in his newest book "Failing Forward." In November, Famous Dave's is awarded "Top Gun" by the Neighborhood Marketing Institute for aggressive in-store marketing at the 2000 Marketing War College. 1999 to 2000 in-store marketing efforts resulted in 47% increase in sales, 8.5% average increase in comparable store sales, and an overall 300% increase in profits.
2001 - Anderson founds The LifeSkills Center for Leadership. Using his 30 years of research, Dave creates a life-changing program for at-risk youth and young adults.
2002 - On January 10, Anderson is Honored as an Olympic Torch carrier for the 2002 Winter Olympics held at Salt Lake City, Utah. In February, he receives the Odyssey Award by Big Brothers Big Sisters for significant contributions to his profession and the community either as mentors or in service to youth. In April, Dave receives Oprah's Angel Network Award and a $25,000 grant from Oprah for continuing leadership development work with at-risk Native American youth. In July, President Bush appoints Dave to the President's Board of Advisors on Tribal Colleges and Universities.
2003 - In May, Dave receives Nightingale-Conant coveted "Acres of Diamonds" Award in recognition of his personal commitment for helping others find their own "Acres of Diamonds!" In December, he was confirmed by the Senate as Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, Indian Affairs.
2004 - Northland College presents Dave an Honorary Doctorate Degree for his commitment to public service.
2005 - In January, Dave is chosen Grand Marshall for the St. Paul Winter Carnival Parade. In April, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America appoints Dave to the Board of Governors. In May, Northland College appoints Dave to the Board of Trustees.


Member of the Choctaw/Chippewa Indian tribes, and an enrolled member of the Lac Courte Oreilles Lake Superior Band of Ojibwa of northwest Wisconsin.
Harvard University's Native American Program, Advisory Council
Executive Mentor, Carlson School of Business MBA Program, University of Minnesota
Member of the National Speaker's Association of America
International Association of Culinary Professionals
Governing Board Member Boys and Girls Clubs of America
Honorary Board Member Lac Courte Oreilles Boy and Girls Club, Hayward, Wisconsin
Boardmember, Minnesota Teen Challenge
Board of Trustees Northland College



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  02/02/2004 Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs Won 100.00% (+100.00%)