You may have already learned that Hy-Vee Inc. is expanding its restaurant business with a new partnership with Wahlburgers Restaurants. But don't look for a Wahlburgers in the Quad-Cities just yet.

As we reported last week, Hy-Vee plans to build, own and operate 26 Wahlburgers restaurants — making it Wahlburgers' largest franchisee to date. The first three Hy-Vee-owned Wahlburgers restaurants are planned for West Des Moines, Minneapolis and Kansas City.

"Obviously, we won't do all 26 in a year, but at some point you'll see one near you,"  said Jeremy Gosch, executive vice president of strategy and chief merchandising officer for the West Des Moines-based Hy-Vee.

Hy-Vee also announced a partnership with Orangetheory Fitness, in which, it will offer customers access to the fitness program in or adjacent to Hy-Vee's stores. The first Hy-Vee Orangetheory Fitness location will open this year in the Twin Cities.

Gosch said the Wahlburgers rollout will begin in mid-2018 and eventually span the states where Hy-Vee operates. Hy-Vee and Wahlburgers' real estate teams are selecting sites "prime for a restaurant," he added. "If it happens to fall across the street from one of our locations, that is coincidence."

They may pop up in cities and markets where the regional grocer is not.

Wahlburgers, founded by Chef Paul Wahlberg, celebrity brothers Mark and Donnie Wahlberg and other investors, currently operates 17 locations in nine U.S. states and Canada.

But Quad-Citians will be able to sample Wahlburgers fare when Hy-Vee introduces select items into its Market Grille restaurants.

Western Illinois earns 'best bang' nod

With a new crop of students and parents beginning rounds of college visits, it is worth noting that Western Illinois University has been ranked as one of the "Best Bang for the Buck" Midwestern schools.

The 2017 Washington Monthly College Guide ranked Western ninth among 364 Midwestern colleges and universities in the "Best Bang for the Buck" rankings. Western climbed from 37th last year. It also is one of two Illinois public universities in the top 10 of the Midwestern school rankings.

In addition, Western has ranked 73rd (up from 91st last year) among 632 national master's degree granting institutions.

"From Washington Monthly to The Princeton Review and many other national ranking organizations, Western Illinois University is recognized as among the best of the best," university president Jack Thomas said.

To see the Washington Monthly 2017 rankings, visit washingtonmonthly.com/magazine/septemberoctober-2017.

Allegiant extends Punta Gorda flight

Allegiant has extended its air service between the Quad-Cities and Punta Gorda, Florida, even before the flights restart in December.

Officials at the Quad-City International Airport said Allegiant's schedule for bookings has extended the seasonal service into mid-May next year. The service, which took a one-year hiatus, is set to resume Dec. 15. Initially, the flights were available through Feb. 12.

Travelers will see one change, however, when the twice-weekly schedule switches its schedule from flights on Monday and Friday to flights on Sunday and Thursday. 

Allegiant also provides Quad-City travelers with service to Las Vegas; Orlando-Sanford, Florida; Phoenix-Mesa, Arizona; and St. Petersburg/Clearwater, Florida.

RSM ranked No. 2 by Accounting Today

RSM US Wealth Management LLC has earned the No. 2 ranking in Accounting Today's 11th annual list of Top Billion Dollar Firms by Assets Under Management.

RSM US Wealth Management, with Quad-City operations, provides investment advisory services, financial planning and other wealth management services.

"Businesses and investors will always be faced with challenges," said Chad Tramp, RSM partner and RSM US Wealth Management wealth adviser. "It is our client's ability, and our responsibility, to identify those risks and challenges and to find solutions to overcome those challenges which sets us apart, and the reason for our clients' and ultimately, our success."

Accounting Today's Wealth Magnets Ranking received more than 200 submissions from CPA firms.

Parent company RSM US LLP is a leading provider of audit, tax and consulting services. It employs 9,000 people in 90 offices nationwide, including 280 in downtown Davenport.

Biz Bytes is a weekly column by Quad-City Times reporter Jennifer DeWitt. Contact her at 563-383-2318 or jdewitt@qctimes.com

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