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Stalk & Spade, the plant-based fast-casual restaurant that opened in Wayzata a year ago, is continuing its aggressive expansion plans with the opening of its first franchise location.

Stalk & Spade, which offers a selection of plant-based burgers, sandwiches, and wraps, fries, and dairy-free sundaes and shakes, is the brainchild of CEO Steele Smiley, who is also behind Minnesota's Crisp & Green chain.

Having opened his flagship Stalk & Spade location in April 2021, Smiley has on Tuesday announced it will be shifting to a franchise model, with plans to open 12 locations nationwide this year.

This will include the previously announced restaurant in Minneapolis' North Loop, but the first franchise location to open will be at 3925 W. 50th St., in Edina's 50th and France shopping area.

And the franchisee will be none other than David Backes, the two-time hockey Olympian who enjoyed a successful NHL career with the St. Louis Blues, the Boston Bruins, and the Anaheim Ducks.

The Twin Cities native will open the restaurant with his wife Kelly, with a press release noting that they both moved to a plant-based lifestyle on the advice of their doctors, which comes after "health concerns David experienced while he was playing professional hockey."

The release notes that Kelly Backes has "always been passionate about sustainability and healthy eating," and is an "avid animal advocate."

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They will open the doors to the Edina location on Friday, Apr. 29, across the street from the Edina Crisp & Green location.

In the company's statement, Smiley says that Stalk & Spade has grown much faster than Crisp & Green did in its first year, noting it took more than four years to open 12 locations, with Stalk & Spade managing that in little more than a year.

He says the chain is the first plant-based restaurant "brought to scale through a franchise model with multi-state stores."

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