Hy-Vee is partnering with a celebrity-owned restaurant chain, national fitness center

Wahlburgers offers specialty burgers as well as salads, sandwiches, frappes and floats.
Wahlburgers offers specialty burgers as well as salads, sandwiches, frappes and floats.

Iowa-based Hy-Vee Inc. will open 26 Wahlburgers restaurants, including some in the Kansas City area, and add select Wahlburgers menu items to its 84 in-house Market Grille operations.

Celebrity brothers Mark and Donnie Wahlberg, along with another brother, executive chef Paul Wahlberg, founded the Massachusetts-based chain. They currently have 17 locations in nine states. Wahlburgers offers signature burgers, sandwiches, entree salads, and frappes and floats in a casual environment.

Hy-Vee will become its largest franchisee and will open its first Wahlburgers in West Des Moines in mid-2018. A map provided by Hy-Vee also shows locations scheduled for the Kansas City metro but no other details were available.

Hy-Vee has 84 Market Grille restaurants, including area locations in Blue Springs, Gladstone, Independence, Lee’s Summit, Liberty, Mission, Olathe, Overland Park, Raytown, and the Northland.

Hy-Vee also will partner with Orangetheory Fitness to add fitness centers adjacent to or inside some Hy-Vee stores. No locations were available.

Orangetheory Fitness features an intensive group training workout. It operates 750 studios nationwide and is on track to open 1,500 in the next two years, including a new Hy-Vee location in the Twin Cities scheduled to open later this year.

Along with adding fitness centers, Hy-Vee will partner with Orangetheory to offer dietetic services, provide samples of nutritional products and lead store tours to showcase items that align with member needs.

In a statement, Hy-Vee vice chairman and CEO Randy Edeker said: “These unprecedented collaborations reinforce our company’s longstanding commitment to health and wellness, culinary expertise and customer experience. However, they also represent a bold step to deliberately evolve our business to meet the change in our customers’ lifestyles and spending habits.”

In 2016 eating meals outside the home surpassed meals consumed in the home and millennials spend 44 percent of their food dollars annually on eating out, according to the Food Institute’s analysis of the USDA food expenditure data from 2014, Hy-Vee said.

Joyce Smith: 816-234-4692, @JoyceKC