Stalk & Spade Set for National Rollout
Stalk & Spade in Wayzata

Stalk & Spade Set for National Rollout

The plant-based burger chain announces its first franchisee, former NHL player David Backes, and plans to open a dozen shops from Minneapolis to Miami.

A week ahead of opening its first franchise location in Edina, Stalk & Spade, the plant-based burger shop started in Wayzata by serial entrepreneur Steele Smiley, announced plans to open a dozen shops from Miami to Des Moines.

The 50th & France Stalk & Spade, opening April 29 at 3925 W. 50th St., is owned by former NHL player David Backes. A two-time Olympian, Backes said he switched to a plant-based diet on the advice of doctors following health concerns while playing hockey. His wife and business partner Kelly is an animal advocate who describes herself as passionate about sustainability and healthy eating.

“David and Kelly Backes are an incredible representation of the Stalk & Spade brand,” said Smiley, CEO of Steel Brands, which includes the franchise salad Crisp & Green. “We could not be more excited to partner with them as we spread the plant-based movement across the nation.”

A third Stalk & Spade will open soon in the North Loop neighborhood of Minneapolis, which is already home to a Crisp & Green. Smiley said additional Stalk & Spade locations will be announced soon.

Backes is not Steele Brands’ first pro athlete franchisee. The first was former NBA player Kris Humphries, who owns Crisp & Green locations in Dinkytown and Maple Grove.

Crisp & Green, which also started in Wayzata, was slow to catch on but the fast casual salad concept caught fire during the pandemic, largely because of its sophisticated order ahead app. Steel brands is now developing a third health-conscious food concept that he plans to franchise: Paco & Lime, a Mexican concept expected to debut in Wayzata by the end of 2022. Among the three restaurant brands, Steele says it now has more than 200 restaurants built and in development in 20 states.

Listen now: Steele Smiley shares his big vision and path to entrepreneurship on By All Means.