Tahoe Joe's in Visalia is seen in this Google Street View image

published on October 8, 2021 - 1:39 PM
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The national restaurant brand behind Famous Dave’s barbecue restaurant acquired the company behind Tahoe Joe’s Friday.

BBQ Holdings Inc. closed the deal on the five remaining units of the steakhouse for $4.212 million. That also includes the intellectual property for HomeTown Buffet as well as other buffet brands under the umbrella Fresh Acquisitions LLC. The original Tahoe Joe’s opened at Shaw and Marks avenues in Fresno in 1996 by restaurateur Dave Fansler.

Jeff Crivello, CEO of BBQ Holdings, Inc., said of the acquisition “We are thrilled to welcome Tahoe Joe’s into the BBQ Holdings Family. This well-loved brand will fold seamlessly into our portfolio, and we can’t wait to start working with the fantastic people who have made Tahoe Joe’s what it is today, and to get the brand on a rejuvenated path to growth.”

The five Tahoe Joe’s locations will reopen for dinner after being closed for lunch so the company could take employees through general orientation, said Al Hank, COO for BBQ Holdings.

“What we really liked about Tahoe Joe’s was the legacy brand and the community involvement,” Hank said.

The synergy between Tahoe Joe’s and Famous Dave’s was what interested leadership, Hank said. A concept in Colorado Springs showed a strong consumer response when Famous Dave’s folded its operations into local steakhouse restaurants. A lot of the recipes between Tahoe Joe’s and Famous Dave’s were similar. And using brands familiar with steak has been a successful way to bring steak to the menu, Hank said.

What the company also saw in Tahoe Joe’s was its successful take-out and catering function of the business. Pre-pandemic, customers did not normally associate steakhouses with take-out, but a change in consumer behavior after stay-at-home orders made getting into off-premise sales all the more important.

Hank said when they acquire brands their goal is expansion and growth and while they will spend the first few quarters learning the ins-and-outs of the operations, ultimately they want to grow the brand.

They will be keeping on all 250-300 employees among the five locations.

Fresh Acquisitions LLC operated Tahoe Joe’s as well as HomeTown Buffet, Ryan’s, Old Country Buffet, Fire Mountain and Furr’s.

Those restaurants all closed prior to the acquisition and Hank said there they have no immediate goals to reopen those brands.

The pandemic shifted how consumers think about buffets and there may be a model change, Hank said. BBQ Holdings does a Sunday lunch buffet at their Granite City Food & Brewery brand. Following the pandemic, they shifted from a self-service model to one where employees serve food to customers. That has proven successful, he said.

Fresh Acquisitions LLC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April.

At one time, it had as many as ten locations. It still has locations in Bakersfield, Visalia, Fresno, Vacaville and Roseville, according to its website.

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