Hy-Vee officials said Tuesday there will soon be a new kid on their block.
Wahlburgers restaurants will replace Market Grille in Hy-Vee's 22 stores with a sit-down dining option.
The new restaurants will offer counter service instead of table ordering but the seating and bars will remain.
"Our customers are wanting more fresh and convenient meal options in a quick-service setting," said Tina Potthoff, vice president of communication at West Des Moines-based Hy-Vee.
The transition, which will last into spring, affects only the Market Grille restaurants, not Market Grille Express, which already provide a quick-service model.
In Minnesota, restaurants in Brooklyn Park, Cottage Grove, Eagan, Lakeville, New Hope, Oakdale, Savage, Shakopee and Rochester will be affected. The three Market Grille Express restaurants in Robbinsdale, Plymouth and Maple Grove will not see changes.
In 2017, Hy-Vee announced a partnership with the Wahlberg brothers Mark, Donnie and Paul to open 26 franchised Wahlburgers locations. The first one opened in Mall of America in 2018. A second one in Maple Grove opened last month. The chain is known for its proprietary blend of beef, housemade sauces and dressings, as well as sides such as mac and cheese and adult beverages such as frappés.
Potthoff said that Hy-Vee does not have a final number of employees who may be laid off or transferred to other positions, including Wahlburgers. One Twin Cities Market Grille employee who asked not to be identified said employees were called to an emergency meeting with several hours notice. Of the 45 employees who worked at the Brooklyn Park location, seven or eight were asked to stay on to work at the new Wahlburgers at a lower pay rate, the employee said. Some general managers were given two weeks severance pay.
During the transition, the Market Grille restaurants will be open more limited hours daily from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. and will serve a modified menu including breakfast, appetizers, burgers, sandwiches and other daily specials that can be ordered at a kiosk.
Wahlburgers opened its first location in 2011 in Massachusetts and parlayed that into an A&E reality show in 2014.