By: Nate Jackson
In the early morning hours of Nov. 3, 2014, fire swept through the original Famous Dave’s BBQ Restaurant on Round Lake, destroying one of the Hayward area’s most iconic buildings and popular eateries.
It did not take long for people to start asking if the restaurant would be rebuilt. If so, would it be another Famous Dave’s? When would construction begin? Would patrons be able to boat to the restaurant as they could before?
With the recent breaking of ground on the former Famous Dave’s site located in Grand Pines Resort, the speculation has formally come to an end. A new bar and grill, slated to open in the spring of 2017, has been dubbed Props Landing Waterfront Grille.
“It’s going to be different than anything folks in Sawyer County have seen before,” said Brian Weidendorf, who with his wife Shari will own and operate the business. “I want to create a place where people can come to have fun and make friends.”
Weidendorf and his wife Shari are residents of Hinckley, Minnesota, but own a lake home on Round Lake right across the bay from the site of the new bar and grill. Weidendorf is an avid flyer and often lands a float plane he owns in Richardson’s Bay.
“We thought the name Props Landing was appropriate,” said Weidendorf, “since airplanes and boats both have props. And we love both activities.”
Asked about the building itself, Weidendorf said, “First of all, the lake views are going to be phenomenal.” The bar and grill, he said, will have an open floor plan and is expected to seat about 120 people indoors, with additional seating on a porch and deck. A series of docks will be available lakeside to accommodate boaters.
Weidendorf said the goal in the new venue is to create a “boathouse, watercraft theme.” The building plans, he said, call for the use of boat motors, boats and even jet skis as architectural props. A tiki hut and outdoor sand volleyball court are also called for. “We want people to be comfortable coming in wearing their flip flops and feel right at home,” he added.
The menu at Props Landing Waterfront Grille, according to Weidendorf, will be unique. “Not ‘white linen fare’ but just different.” He noted the menu will include a number of side dishes, specialty pizzas and sandwiches. The bar will provide full on- and off-sale liquor service, said Weidendorf, but will highlight specialty craft beers and “have a great wine selection.”
Construction of the new building exterior is expected to be completed by September, with interior finishes taking place through fall and winter. A soft business opening is planned for next March or April, he said, and a grand opening is set for Memorial Day weekend in 2017. Most of the work, he said, is being handled by local contractors, as well as him personally.
Dave Anderson, founder of the original Famous Dave’s on Round Lake, said, “I am proud to say this Spring 2016 marked the passing of the torch” to the Weidendorfs. “I am excited, as I feel Brian will be building one of the area’s newest fun places to come eat, drink and hang out.”
Anderson, who is sometimes referred to as “America’s Rib King,” noted that his original restaurant “. . . was one of those once in a lifetime properties that could never be rebuilt.”
Weidendorf said once the business is up and running next spring he expects to employ up to 30 workers in a combination of full and part-time positions.
“We’re really excited,” Weidendorf said in anticipation of the business start-up. “We hope to create something the Northwoods hasn’t seen before, something new, and something fun. We want to continue the great tradition Famous Dave started on Round Lake so many years ago.”
Editors Note: Nate Jackson is a freelance writer who lives part time in Florida and Wisconsin. He and his wife Linda spend most of their summers at a house they own on Round Lake.