Old Southern BBQ Is a Mouthwatering Success

by | Mar 2024

Turn up the heat on flavor with Chicago Fire BBQ Sauce. It’s a spicy zing for the tastebuds.

Turn up the heat on flavor with Chicago Fire BBQ Sauce. It’s a spicy zing for the tastebuds. Photos: Old Southern BBQ

Legacy of the Anderson family’s love of barbecue carries on to the third generation.

James Anderson has been to New York City, but he’s never seen the Statue of Liberty. He’s been to Boston, but he’s never been to Fenway Park. Anderson has, however, been to several of the best barbecue hotspots those famous cities have to offer.

That’s because Anderson is a third-generation pitmaster, who has spent a lifetime surrounded by barbecue and all the camaraderie that comes with it. He is the co-owner of Old Southern BBQ Smokehouse and the son of Dave Anderson of Famous Dave’s. He knows what it takes to tantalize taste buds.

Barbecue Passion

The passion, or maybe addiction, of creating good barbecue started with Anderson’s grandfather, Jim, a native of the southeastern corner of Oklahoma. Anderson speaks fondly of his grandfather and his love of cooking.

Barbecue entered the second generation of the Anderson family with Dave, who Anderson says would be up smoking meat into the late hours of the night. He would wake up for school having to push barbecue ingredients out of the way during breakfast at the dining room table.

“The most memorable was corned beef hash night,” he says. “I’d go to school smelling like corned beef … The ladies didn’t always like that right away in the morning.”

Anderson spent most of his adolescent and young adult years bussing tables and washing dishes at the first Famous Dave’s. All arrows of the Anderson family legacy pointed to Anderson taking his place in the barbecue spotlight. However, he admits he wasn’t always sure that would be the route he planned to take.

“Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always loved barbecue,” he says. “My answer to the question, ‘What would your last meal be?’ has always been a rack of ribs. A high-quality, good rack of ribs. But did I plan to do what I’m doing now? Not necessarily. There was a time I wanted to become my own man.”

At the end of the day, he says he loves food—good food.

“Am I surprised I’m in the restaurant business? No. Was it the original plan? No. But I love it. It’s a natural fit,” he says.

A barbecue platter from Old Southern BBQ.
Old Southern BBQ Smokehouse

Where Anderson created his own niche in the industry is his passion for hospitality. The entrepreneur always had a knack for the people side of the business, traveling around the country training and speaking on the qualities of strong leadership, team building and creating a positive culture.

In 2011, Anderson, a member of the Lac Courte Band of Ojibwe, was approached during a Native American business conference and asked to bring the taste of home to troops by creating ribs to serve in the Middle East.

“We created Old Southern BBQ Ribs, using family recipes as a Native American-owned company,” he says.

Three years later, the original Famous Dave’s in Hayward, Wisconsin, burned down, destroying a building full of memories and nostalgia and leaving the community without their beloved barbecue joint.

“That was a tough time for our family, and we wanted to make sure barbecue lived on, near our reservation,” he says.

The next year, Jimmy’s Old Southern BBQ Smokehouse opened, restoring barbecue to the area and paying tribute to his grandfather, Jim.

“He’s where the Southern in Old Southern BBQ comes from,” Anderson says, of Jim’s upbringing in Oklahoma. “Our restaurant is paying homage to my grandpa and his love of smoking meat and southern cooking.”

Barbecue Sauce and White Clothing

In 2019, Anderson and his wife, Colleen, took over operations of Old Southern BBQ and now own and operate four Twin Cities locations, plus the seasonal restaurant in Hayward.

James and Colleen Anderson at Old Southern BBQ

James and Colleen Anderson at Old Southern BBQ in Minneapolis.

“We are really proud of what we do,” Colleen Anderson says. “Barbecue is one of those things that has a real cult following, in the best way.”

And nothing says they’re doing something right better than mixing white clothing and barbecue sauce.

“There’s no better feeling than someone booking their wedding because they like coming to our restaurant,” she says. “What a high honor that validates why we do what we do.”

Supportive Dave

As Old Southern BBQ continues to grow and evolve in the barbecue world, the obvious question is: Is Famous Dave himself supportive of his son and his restaurants?


“He loves Old Southern BBQ,” Anderson says of his father. “What’s great about my dad, he expresses his appreciation, support and respect for everyone. He always goes to other places and sees what they have to offer.”

Anderson says it’s an important quality to have and creates a growing link between pitmasters whether they’re family or meeting for the first time at a barbecue competition.

“I love tasting other people’s food and giving credit where credit is due,” he says. “One of the most important things you have is your reputation. I respect anyone who is out there in the pit and putting out great food the right way. That’s what we want to do in our restaurant, as well.”

At the end of the day, the Andersons take pride in creating an experience that makes their restaurant a go-to spot over any famous landmark.

“The positive ambiance of walking into your neighborhood barbecue joint is something that is very important to me and my family,” he says. “It isn’t just about me. It’s about our team and the legacy of the Anderson family.”

Old Southern BBQ
4501 France Ave. S.; 612.236.4827
Facebook: Old Southern BBQ Smokehouse
Instagram: @oldsouthernbbq


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