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July 26, 2022

The plant-based protein market has exploded in the last five years, with estimates saying the market will be worth $160 billion by 2030 and plant-based fast food could reach $40 billion by 2028. 

Companies like McDonald’s and Burger King have waded into the space with their own McPlant and Impossible Whopper. Now, dedicated plant-based fast food restaurants are up and coming as well, and I think the one I work for could be the next big thing.

Stalk and spade lead js

What is Stalk & Spade?

Stalk & Spade is a new fast-casual plant-based restaurant that is taking Minnesota by storm. Its first location, owned by Crisp & Green owner Steele Smiley, opened in April 2021, and its second franchised location opened in April 2022. A third restaurant is set to open later this year in the North Loop of Downtown Minneapolis.

Both restaurants are located in the suburbs of the Twin Cities, and are targeted at young people who are interested in vegetarianism or veganism. Everything on the menu is plant-based and dairy free, and Stalk & Spade has everything from your classic cheeseburger to a Crispy Chick’n sandwich. Even its soft drinks are zero calorie and zero sugar.

I work at the Stalk & Spade in Edina, Minnesota as a cashier and team member. I’ve tried almost everything on the menu, and it all tastes as good as it looks. I eat meat but now I almost prefer a plant-based burger. Since working there, I’ve tried recreating its recipes at home using plant-based burgers from the grocery store and I eat less meat overall.

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In my experience working in a food service environment, the restaurants can get pretty greasy and dirty. However, Stalk & Spade is a different ball game. The restaurant features bright lighting, neon signs, white tables, and an open kitchen. The environment is tasteful and everything you’d expect an upscale vegan restaurant to be.

Is Plant-Based Fast Food More Expensive?

The restaurant is not as affordable as McDonalds  (MCD) – Get McDonald’s Corporation Report or Burger King  (YUM) – Get Yum! Brands Inc. Report, and there are no combos to make the meal cheaper. Stalk & Spade’s most popular burger, the Shroom Burger, (which comes with garlic mayo, arugula, red onions, gouda cheese, and mushrooms) comes in at $11.45 and fries at $3.25. Sweet potato fries are a popular option at $4.25. Despite the higher price point, we have many repeat customers and plenty of people wanting to try a vegan burger.

Steele Smiley, the owner of Stalk & Spade, is a former Olympian who wanted to make burgers from plants that taste good and feel good for your body. The chain is already attracting big attention as well. David Backes, a former forward for the Boston Bruins in the NHL, becoming the franchise owner of my location as well as the chain’s third location in the North Loop.

Can I Open a Stalk & Spade?

To open and operate a Stalk & Spade franchise, it costs between $425,000 to $831,000, which includes the franchise fee. More information is available via the company’s official website.

Smiley has announced he plans to open 12 new Stalk & Spade franchise locations in the U.S., including more locations in Metro Minneapolis, Miami, and Iowa.

Stalk & Spade poses major competition for Sweetgreen, a salad, bowl and smoothie fast-casual restaurant that is already competing head-to-head with Stalk & Spade’s sister company, Crisp & Green. The restaurant focuses on bringing healthy options accessible to customers, which is what Stalk & Spade does.

Sweetgreen is planning on opening locations in Edina, the North Loop, and Saint Paul, the first two being in the same area as Stalk & Spade restaurants. Additionally Stalk & Spade locations are near or across from Crisp & Green’s, so competition between the Smiley brand and Sweetgreen could become intense as the demand for plant-based fast food options continues to climb.

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