Famous Dave's was founded by David W. Anderson, originally from Chicago, Illinois. He started Famous Dave's in 1994 in Hayward, Wisconsin, purchasing and converting a resort property situated on Round Lake. He soon expanded to Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Famous Dave's became a publicly traded company in October of 1996.
In December of 2003, Anderson was appointed assistant secretary for The U.S. Department of the Interior's Indian Affairs, overseeing more than 10,000 employees in the agency. He served in the position until 2005. Anderson is a member of the Choctaw, Chippewa and Ojibwa tribes.
Anderson carried the Olympic Torch during the relay preceding the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.