National BBQ chain and franchisor Famous Dave’s abruptly closed all three of its RVA locations this past week–tough break for the dozens of employees who found themselves out of work during the holiday season (query whether any of the employees received severance pay–not legally required, but surely a best practice among companies committed to their team.  Famous Dave’s not only owned and operated the three restaurants, but also owned the sites, so it will be interesting to see how long those sites remain dark.

On the other hand, this could prove to be a wise business decision by Famous Dave’s, whose ratio of company-owned to franchised units is relatively high and, historically, the conventional wisdom is that franchised units outperform company-owned locations.  A franchise system with company-owned units typically likes to maintain an 80/20 or 85/15 ratio between franchised and company-owned locations.

The Richmond BBQ market has gotten increasingly competitive over the past 10 years or so, with an interesting combination of franchise brands like Famous Dave’s and independently-owned restaurants like Buz and Ned’s (who generously encouraged the newly displaced Famous Dave’s employees through social media to apply for openings with them), Q Barbecue, and Alexander’s BBQ.