"Sweetwater Catfish returns to Famous Dave's;" those are words the company's guests have been waiting over two years to hear. Famous Dave's was driven to remove the popular appetizer and entrée from menus in 2011 because it was unable to get the quality it wanted. So began an epic narrative of guest devotion.
"Guests eat our catfish up as quickly as we can get it in the restaurants," says Famous Dave's Vice President of Purchasing, Jeff Abramson. "When the shortage hit, we couldn't keep our restaurants reliably supplied and, since we never sacrifice quality, we had to remove it from the menus. Suffice it to say, guests didn't like the news. We heard from so many guests that I've been seeing catfish in my sleep for two years."
Guests rave about the Catfish Fingers, strips of lightly-breaded catfish dusted with Cajun-seasoned cornmeal and flash-fried. Even two years after leaving its menus, Famous Dave's guests request the return of catfish nearly eight times as often as any other item. The keyword "catfish" crowds the company's social media streams.
"Famous Dave's catfish fans are everywhere," says Gretchen Anthony, Famous Dave's director of communication. "My husband and I escaped work and kids for the weekend recently to celebrate our anniversary," she says. "No sooner did we sit down to dinner than the man at the next table began arguing with friends that they hadn't really eaten catfish until they'd eaten Famous Dave's catfish. There we sat over a bottle of wine, regaled by a Famous Catfish Finger evangelist."
Catfish lovers' day of rejoicing has finally arrived. Catfish is available as three menu items: as an appetizer, as a platter accompanied by the choice of two side items and Famous Dave's signature Corn Bread Muffin, and as a combo with either Georgia Chopped Pork or the St. Louis-Style Spareribs.
Abramson says, "Catfish is a Famous Dave's classic I hope never escapes us again. I mean it. Now I can go back to counting sheep."