I've heard some recent debate about the pro's and con's of Famous Dave's versus Smokey Bones for barbecue.
I definitely have some biased opinions based on my own experiences, but first I want to share a little history of both restaurant operations.
Smokey Bones is part of the Darden Restaurants (DRI) chain that also operates hundreds of Red Lobster, Olive Garden, and Bahama Breeze concepts in locations across the country. Smokey Bone's locations are primarily in the eastern United States. The company's common stock price has risen from the $28 range in January 2005 to a current price near $40 in January 2006.
Famous Dave's is a part of Famous Dave's of America chain of restaurants with locations that started in Wisconsin and expanded into most of the 48 contiguous states. In 1994 the chain was started by Dave Anderson, a popular humanitarian and businessman, in pursuite of a life-long passion. The company's common stock price traded in a very narrow range throughout 2005, starting in the $11 range in January 2005, reaching a high near $14 and then falling back into the $11 range near the end of 2005.
It's difficult to compare the two companies directly because Famous Dave's operates primarily bbq restaurants will Smokey Bones is part of a larger company that also includes non-barbecue restaurants.
In my opinion, a recommendation for choosing which restaurant to go eat at varies according to your personality and your "mood" at the time.
If you want to go have a beer or two and watch a football game, then I'd go to Smokey Bones. They have more of a sports bar atmosphere and have a lot of televisions.
If you want to go eat at a neat restaurant that has a lot of reproduction signs and simulated old looking stuff hanging on the walls and plays some pretty good blues music in the background, then I'd recommend Famous Dave's. The restaurant I've visited had more of a road house atmosphere, contrasted distinctively compared to Smokey Bones.
If you want to eat bbq the way you like it, tender, juicy with the just the right amount of sauce and rub, then I'd recommend you fire up your smoker and cook your own.
As bbq restaurants go, either one is acceptable, but nothing can replace "homemade".