Forget the crossword and stack of pancakes — get ready for the best part of your weekend. We’ve rounded up the food tech and innovation-related stories that caught our eye around the web this week for your perusing pleasure. From plant-based sliders at White Castle to (maybe) smart plates, get ready for your weekly dose of news.

Photo: Kitchen 1883

Kroger to expand in-store restaurant chain

Kroger recently announced that it will open a second in-store restaurant in the Greater Cincinnati area. Dubbed Kitchen 1883, its menu features new American comfort food. Kroger launched the first Kitchen 1883 restaurant last November in Kentucky.

As grocery sales move online, this is a bid from Kroger to get shoppers to physically go to their stores, and to stay awhile. It’s a similar concept to this frozen yogurt kiosk or Ikea’s beloved meatballs and cinnamon rolls; keep people around, and they’ll buy more.

 

Photo: Smartplate.com

Smartplate (Might Be) About to Finally Ship

A few days ago Anthony Ortiz, founder of Smartplate, the plate/app combo that tracks the nutrition of what you’re eating, posted an update on their IndieGo page stating that they had built the first 15 production-grade Smartplate TopViews. These new plates are flatter, with updated software.

We’ve covered Smartplate before on the Spoon, with some healthily skepticism. Their update claims they’ll be ready to ship by July 2018, but they’ve already missed a few ship dates. I guess we’ll have to wait and see if Smartplate is finally ready for the real world — but in the mean time, you can go ahead and download the Smartplate app.

 

Photo: Soylent

Soylent at Walmart!

Soylent, the powdered meal replacement drink aimed at busy millennials, became available at Walmart this week. The beverage made the leap into brick-and-mortar retail last year when it launched in 2,500 7-Eleven stores. Previously it was only available online.

Rosa Foods, the maker of Soylent, announced that it will be available in 450 Walmart stores across 14 states. This latest expansion signifies that the beverage, which had a few ups and downs over the past few years, is becoming more mainstream. It also indicates a strong market for meal replacements aimed not at people who want to weight loss, but who want to save time and brainspace.

 

Photo: Local Crate

Local Crate Raises $1.4M for Fresh Food Delivery

Minnesota-based meal kit service Local Crate raised $1.4 million this week. The startup focuses on sourcing local ingredients from smallholder farmers and local producers, which they pre-portion and deliver in their meal kits, along with chef-inspired recipes. With this new fundraise, they plan to expand into Wisconsin and Iowa. They also want to develop their brick and mortar presence, following recent announcements by Weight Watchers, Walmart, Plated and others who also placed their meal kits on supermarket shelves.

 

Photo: White Castle

White Castle Now Offering Impossible Burgers at Affordable Price

On Thursday, April 12th, White Castle, the fast-food chain known for its tiny, square hamburgers, will offer a version of its sliders made with Impossible Foods’ plant-based patties. The sliders will come with smoked cheddar, pickles, and onions, but customers can nix the cheese to make it vegan.

White Castle is rolling out the plant-based sliders in 140 locations and will eventually offer them nationally. We tried the patties last month and decided that while they tasted pretty good, their high price point could be a barrier to widespread acceptance. This partnership will make Impossible’s “bleeding” burgers much more widely available — and more affordable, too. White Castle’s Impossible sliders will cost only $1.99 each. It will be interesting to see how the bleeding burgers fare in a fast food environment, instead of the fast casual and high end restaurants where they have been offered up until now.