An agreement with the Hy-Vee grocery stores will bring 26 new Wahlburgers to seven Midwestern states.

By Mike Pomranz
Updated September 15, 2017

Back in the '80s, when you were getting down to the boy band delights of New Kids on the Block… Or even in the early '90s, when Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch were giving you those "Good Vibrations"… Or even in the late '90s, when Mark Wahlberg made a splash as the lead actor in Boogie Nights… Or, heck, even in the 2000s, when the Wahlbergs built up enough Hollywood cred to shed their punchline past, you probably never imagined this: the Wahlberg family, burger barons!

And yet, here we are: This week, Wahlburgers—the burger chain owned by chef Paul Wahlberg and his famous brothers Mark and Donnie—announced a partnership with the West Des Moines, Iowa-based grocery store chain Hy-Vee that will more than double number of Wahlburgers locations, as well as place the brands food into Hy-Vee's own full-service in-store restaurants, a move that will massively expand the Wahlburgers name throughout the Midwest.

According to The Gazette, Hy-Vee has agreed to build, own and operate 26 new Wahlburgers location across seven Midwestern states with the first to be built in the grocery brand's home city of West Des Moines in mid-2018. Currently, Wahlburgers—which launched in Massachusetts in 2011—has just 17 restaurants in nine states. As an additional arm of the partnership, Hy-Vee will also sell Wahlburgers food at its Market Grilles, sit-down eateries that the grocery brand operates in about 100 of its more than 200 stores. "There is a changing landscape in the retail industry," Randy Edeker, Hy-Vee's chairman, CEO and president, said in a statement. "Hy-Vee has a responsibility to our customers, employees and communities to look for new ways to strengthen our company. With this type of progressive action, Hy-Vee is well positioned for future growth."

At the same time, Wahlburgers is positioned for future growth as well. As Eater points out, the partnership allows the burger brand to maintain its independence, and the company has expansion plans of its own, with new locations set to open in New Orleans and Chicago. Basically, Wahlburgers is positioned to blow up across the country bigger than New Kids on the Block's 1988 album Hangin' Tough. For millennials who might not quite remember it, that's really big!