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Wahlburgers opened in 2011 and has bas been the subject of an A&E reality show since this January
Brothers Donnie, Paul, and Mark co-own Wahlburgers.
Hey Philadelphia and Toronto: you’re finally getting that Mark and Donnie Wahlberg-owned burger restaurant you’ve always wanted! Well, maybe you don’t want it, but it looks like they’re headed your way regardless. According to a new report from Boston Business Journal, the Wahlberg family-owned Wahlburgers is eyeing five Philadelphia locations, a downtown Toronto location, and plans on expanding beyond their original location in Boston.
Wahlburgers, which since early 2014 has been the subject of an eponymously named reality show on the A&E network, opened its doors in 2011 at Boston’s Hingham Shipyard. Their specialty burger menu includes a “Thanksgiving leftovers” burger made with ground turkey and a specialty beef burger with tomato jam, bacon, Swiss cheese, and sautéed mushrooms, along with a revolving “Burger of the Month.”
Mark and Donnie Wahlburg co-own the restaurant with their brother Paul, who serves as head chef. CEO Rick Vanzura said burger fans can expect a new Fenway Park and Toronto location later this year, with further expansion starting in 2015. The family also owns and operates the more upscale Italian restaurant Alma Nove, also located in the in the Hingham shipyard.
Adam D’Arpino is the Restaurants Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @AdamDArpino.
Mark Wahlberg's burger chain is planning a massive expansion to compete with Shake Shack and Five Guys
The Boston-based chain, called Wahlburgers, is about to open its sixth location in Manhattan's Times Square.
Over the next five years, the company plans to add 100 to 150 more locations, Wahlburgers CEO Rick Vanzura told Business Insider in an interview.
Wahlburgers is competing with other better-burger chains such as Shake Shack, Five Guys, and Smashburger.
But it has a unique advantage over those chains, and not just because of its celebrity founders: Wahlburgers is the subject of an Emmy-nominated reality-TV show, which just got approved for two more 14-episode seasons on A&E.
"It has certainly been a huge promotional vehicle," he said. "W e saw an immediate increase in sales with the show. And Mark and Donnie understand the importance of the show to the brand so they have done everything they can to promote the show."
Opening a restaurant might seem like an odd choice for Mark and Donnie Wahlberg, who are best known for their acting and singing. But the lesser-known Wahlberg brother — Paul — is a classically trained chef who has been in the restaurant industry for more than 30 years.
The privately held company doesn't release many details about its financials. Vanzura says the original Wahlburgers location generates about $5 million in sales annually, but noted that he would not expect that volume for every restaurant going forward.
"We understand that initial locations, being flagship models, might be more productive than we would see down the line," Vanzura said.
The restaurants feature a full bar with craft beer, wine and liquor, and menu items such as the "O.F.D" — a half-pound beef burger with house-made tomato jam, bacon, Swiss cheese, and sautéed mushrooms — and sandwiches like the "Crispy Haddock" featuring seasoned Panko-breaded Haddock fillets topped with lettuce, tomato, and balsamic tartar sauce.
The chain prides itself on serving high-quality ingredients and house-made condiments and pickles. It's also transparent with customers about where its food comes from. At the top of its menu, Wahlburgers displays the names of its suppliers of beef and buns.
Dragons' Den star plans Wahlburgers expansion in Ontario
The big green and white ‘W’ logo in front of the SoHo Metropolitan Hotel’s newest restaurant stands for Wahlburgers, but there’s actually a lot of Wek behind that letter.
Bay Street financial whiz Michael Wekerle — known as Wek to his many pals, among them actor Mark Wahlberg — is a major force behind bringing the Wahlburgers gourmet burger concept to Canada. He even helped the famous Wahlberg brothers get the original eatery off the ground in Hingham, Mass., in 2011.
The high-flying investment guru and new judge on CBC’s Dragons’ Den is full of surprises, stepping in at the 11th hour a week ago to save Toronto’s famed El Mocambo Tavern from closure, and accidentally blowing up his rare Porsche 918 Spyder at a gas station in Caledon in September.
So of course he manages to raise eyebrows (he says his were singed in the car fire) in an interview with his co-investors at Wahlburgers prior to the official grand opening Saturday at the SoHo on Wellington St. W. Mark Wahlberg and brothers Donnie, actor and singer, and chef Paul are set to attend.
“I’m trying to get Muhammad Ali to come to the opening too,” said Wekerle quite seriously while doing the first part of the interview in mirrored sunglasses and playing tunes from Irish musician Hozier for everyone on his smartphone.
“That’s the plan at the moment,” said Metropolitan Hotel spokeswoman Cassie Prosper with a nervous smile, who knows as well as anybody it’s impossible to rein in the fast-talking wild child of Toronto’s investment community.
But the merchant bank chairman has yet another surprise up his sleeve.
As the master franchise group that owns the Canadian rights to Wahlburgers, Wekerle and co-investors Bruce Greenberg, president of Starwood Group, and Henry Wu, president of Metropolitan Hotels, now have big plans for a chain of the celebrity burger joints.
Starting in 2015, they expect to be at Pearson airport and Little Italy along with two locations each in Ottawa and Waterloo, and possibly in Guelph.
The rapid expansion coincides with the rollout of several others in the U.S, where the Wahlberg clan expects to capitalize on their hit A&E reality show Wahlburgers. Location deals are in place for Las Vegas, Philadelphia and Boston, and the family has ambitious plans for about 300 across the U.S. over the next decade.
Despite the growth of gourmet burger spots in Toronto recently, the three well-seasoned Canadian investors truly believe in the concept of simple but elevated diner food (including sweet potato tater tots and a Thanksgiving turkey burger topped with stuffing and cranberries), along with a fully stocked bar where locals can hang out.
nadians for some reason love a good burger. It’s in our blood,” said Wekerle in his trademark raspy voice.
𠇊s kids, most of us had our birthday parties at McDonald’s. It always goes back to the burger. Canadians generally are more burger-oriented, yet Americans have so much more choice,” he noted.
The menu is similar but not identical to the original location outside Boston and will feature monthly Canadian twists, though chef Paul Wahlberg is very closely involved with what’s served at Wahlburgers Toronto. He worked with chef Vincent Leung to source the custom grind of 100-per-cent Canadian beef that comes from a local butcher and is proprietary to Wahlburgers.
The bright green dຜor and cozy family diner style design in the 4,800-square-foot restaurant is also quite similar, thanks to hotelier Wu.
“Henry was very persistent and meticulous. Bruce and I were the cheerleaders to get the deal going, and Bruce was the common glue that connected us all. But Henry was responsible for executing it,” noted Wekerle.
Greenberg is a successful Toronto developer of luxury hotels and condos, and co-owner of the exclusive five-star Hazelton Hotel in Yorkville. Wu is an MIT grad who oversees the day-to-day operations of Metropolitan properties in Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver and also manages the Hazelton.
“The Wahlburgers brand is well known. They needed to know there was a team here who could execute, to make it a Canadian brand too,” said Wu, who was also key to bringing in renowned chef Susur Lee to create Luckee at the SoHo.
Wekerle jokes about his own restaurant experience, starting out as a busboy at 12 growing up in Toronto and waiting tables at 18.
Years later, the resource stock trader invested in some high-end Toronto restaurants such as the former Centro, Yorkville’s Flow (now closed) and Splendido, but he quickly left those partnerships after some egos got in the way.
“I’m very much involved with what I do, but I’ve never made money in the restaurant business,” he said, noting he thinks this venture will be successful because the investor group this time around is much smaller and close-knit.
“We don’t accept failure and we don’t take no for an answer. We also don’t want to move too quickly or we risk losing control of the model,” said Wekerle.
Added Greenberg: “We’re driven by the fact that it’s not a burger place, it’s a restaurant. It’s an experience. Toronto is a mini-New York.”
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Wahlberg brothers reunite in Boston to celebrate their new Wahlburgers' food truck
When it comes to food, the Wahlberg brothers are really on a roll.
On Thursday, the team behind the Wahlburgers fast food chain — brothers Donnie, Paul and Bob, along with their mother, Alma — unveiled a new food truck in their old Boston neighborhood of Dorchester, Massachusetts.
Though he couldn't be there in person, Mark Wahlberg even FaceTimed in for the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
"We're very excited that after six years with the brand that it's all come full circle," Wahlburgers CEO Rick Vanzura told TODAY Food. "Dorchester was years in the works of having the right spot. We're all so excited . That's why so much of the family came out to support. It's a big deal for all of us."
In addition to hosting a ribbon cutting and getting to know their customers, the Wahlbergs gave the first 100 hungry fans free lunch.
Paul Wahlberg later grilled up $5 burgers for attendees who arrived after the free food was gone.
On social media, visitors praised the Wahlbergs for throwing a great food truck-unveiling party.
One instagramer wrote: "Was such a great event. Thanks for taking care of us. Excited to come back once the restaurant opens. "
Another commented: "Soooo good to see your mom there. What a legacy."
One tweeter said the event felt like home.
Such an amazing day! Thank you for your hospitality! It did feel like home.— Alyssa FarrellGreene (@agreene31) April 20, 2018
And it looks like Donnie felt the same.
Since Donnie, Mark and Paul Wahlberg started up their first burger spot in 2014, they've opened 24 restaurants, launched a reality TV show and now have two food trucks operating out of Philadelphia and Boston. By the end of 2018, the company plans to start operating a food truck in Palo Alto, California, and open up to 15 new restaurants, including one in Dorchester.
For those craving a burger in the New England area (or just a potential Wahlberg brother sighting), the new food truck's first main event will be at Harpoon Brewery's 2018 HarpoonFest in Boston on May 18 and 19.
"The truck will travel throughout New England," Venzura said. "Mark in particular wanted the truck to be available at different events. I think you'll see that truck traveling quite a bit."
Wahlburgers restaurant opens in Toronto
Wahlburgers, a burger chain co-owned by celebrity brothers Mark and Donnie Wahlberg, along with their chef sibling Paul, has opened the first restaurant outside the U.S. in Toronto, Canada.
Located inside the luxury SoHo Metropolitan Hotel, Wahlburgers Toronto features a quick-serve counter with seating for 40 people as well as a full service dine-in restaurant and sports bar with a seating for 80 people.
After a soft launch earlier this month, the restaurant will open officially with a ‘green carpet’ event (green is the brand’s signature color) and appearances by all three Wahlberg brothers on Saturday.
The Canadian opening is part of major expansion plans for the celebrity burger chain that include more openings across Canada including Toronto Pearson International Airport, Waterloo and Ottawa.
Actor brother Mark Wahlberg told Toronto Life Magazine: "It’s a great place to test the waters. If a film does well at TIFF, it stands a great chance of being successful around the world. I think the same is true of restaurants. It’s a cutting-edge city with a lot of cool people. If you can make it in Toronto, you can make it anywhere."
In the US, plans are also afoot to open more locations in Las Vegas, Philadelphia and Boston.
Over the next 10 years, the company expects to open about 300 more restaurants across the US.
The making of the chain, which opened in 2011, and its daily goings-on are also filmed in an A&E reality show, “Wahlburgers."
Mark Wahlberg’s Wahlburgers Tangled Up in Another Lawsuit
Celebrity-fueled burger chain Wahlburgers is tangled up in another lawsuit, and this time it’s coming from inside the house. The brothers Wahlberg — Mark, Donnie, and the decidedly less famous Paul — are being sued by their business partners, who claim they were unfairly shut out of the chain’s big-time expansion plans, according to the Boston Globe.
The suit, filed earlier this week by Billy Leonard and Edward St. Croix in Plymouth County, Massachusetts, alleges that the Wahlberg brothers “stole the most valuable franchise opportunities for themselves” after Leonard and St. Croix played an instrumental role in developing the restaurant’s first location, which opened just outside Boston back in 2011.
The lawsuit claims St. Croix came up with the idea for Wahlburgers, and that the idea to do a reality show — A&E’s Wahlburgers, which is now in its seventh season — was also his. Leonard, a long-time friend of the family, was a minority owner in the first location and was also featured on the TV show. The duo say they were pushed out of management roles and excluded from massive franchising plans that will see as many as 180 Wahlburgers stores open in the next five years, including 20 in the Middle East.
The suit also says the brothers have “dysfunctional” relationships that made getting the business started difficult, and that Mark Wahlberg once physically threatened Leonard on the set of the reality show.
Unsurprisingly, Wahlburgers disputes these claims, saying in a statement issued yesterday, “It’s obvious that this lawsuit, with its unbridled litany of false and misleading claims, was concocted to further the plaintiffs’ own personal agendas at the expense of the truth, the Wahlberg family and other investors.”
Last year Wahlburgers was hit with a class-action lawsuit from five employees, claiming that a Coney Island franchise was engaging in wage theft by refusing to pay workers overtime, among other labor law violations. The suit also alleged that the Wahlberg brothers had been made aware of the problems, but did nothing to resolve them.
Wahlburgers Franchise Expansion On Track With 20-Store Deal In The Middle East And Airport Agreements
BOSTON , May 6, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Wahlburgers, the casual burger restaurant founded by brothers Mark, Donnie, and Paul Wahlberg and subject of the popular A&E TV reality series, has secured a 20-store franchise deal with Arjomand Group of the Middle East and an agreement with SSP America, a division of SSP Group, to operate at Boston's Logan and Toronto's Pearson airports. Also, Wahlburgers has extended its contract with New York -based Big Apple Burgers to include six units on Long Island , in addition to five in Manhattan and one on Coney Island.
Since its 2011 debut in Hingham, MA , franchise growth for Wahlburgers has been on track with two stores now open and 66 more under development to open over the next several years. Six to eight stores are slated to open in 2015 as follows: In Q2, Wahlburgers will open in Lynnfield, MA , and Coney Island. In Q3, a third Greater Boston location will open near Fenway Park. Wahlburgers' second unit in Toronto will open this fall in Terminal One of Toronto Pearson International Airport with additional openings possible by year's end in Orlando , Philadelphia, New York and Las Vegas - all subject to lease negotiations and construction schedules.
"We are happy to be taking this next step in our development with the Arjomand Group and SSP America. It reflects our continued commitment to teaming with proven operators who can represent the brand well throughout the world," said Mark Wahlberg .
"We are thrilled to continue our growth with outstanding franchise partners," said Rick Vanzura CEO of Wahlburgers. "The reality of bringing Wahlburgers to our friends in the Middle East is extremely exciting, as is offering our burgers and heartfelt hospitality to those traveling through Boston and Toronto airports."
"We are very proud of the Wahlberg family for creating such a great franchise concept, and we plan on making it a huge success in the Middle East region," said Farooq Mahmood Arjomand Founding Chairman & CEO of the Arjomand Group.
"Wahlburger's is an exciting addition to the restaurant portfolios of Toronto's Pearson and Boston's Logan. It provides a unique menu with name recognition—the combination offers a level of diversity we haven't seen before. Add in a great operator like SSP America, and it's a win, win, win for everyone," said Pat Murray , Executive Vice President, SSP America.
Wahburgers restaurants share the signature characteristics of the flagship Wahlburgers in Hingham, Mass. , including full-serve and quick-serve dining options, take-out and a full bar. To inquire regarding business opportunities please visit http://www.wahlburgersrestaurant.com/franchise/.
Founded by Executive Chef Paul Wahlberg and celebrity brothers Mark and Donnie Wahlberg . Wahlburgers, the subject of an A&E reality show, offers a fun, casual music-filled atmosphere where guests, like family, share great food, a few laughs and lots of love. While its interior decor is filled with photos and memories celebrating the brothers' life journeys from Dorchester neighborhood kids to rising chef and international superstars, Wahlburgers makes food the real star. Guests enjoy delicious fresh ground beef burgers, pure beef hot dogs, crispy fries, onion rings, tater tots, signature salads, specialty frappes, beer and cocktails - all served with heartfelt hospitality. Dedicated to giving back, Wahlburgers is active in every community it serves. Open daily for lunch and dinner, Wahlburgers offers fast casual and table service. For locations and more information visit http://www.wahlburgersrestaurant.com.
About ARJOMAND GROUP
Arjomand Group is one of the leading & most respected organizations in the Middle East , operating over 15 companies under the leadership of Mr. Farooq Arjomand . The group operates in segments such as trading, restaurants, hospitality, travel, executive aviation, institutional laundry, corporate finance, shares & bonds, investment banking, real estate, lighting & interiors. Arjomand Group has offices across Europe & GCC countries. http://www.arjomandgroup.com/group.html
ABOUT SSP America
Since its arrival to North America in 2007, SSP America, a division of SSP Group, has positioned itself as the food travel expert, growing to become a leading operator of food and beverage concessions in the U.S. and Canada operating over 200 outlets in 24 airports. SSP America's strong growth has been driven by a strategic vision to dramatically improve the food travel experience for passengers through innovation and investment in brands, extensive training and development of staff, building lasting partnerships with airports, and together, putting the needs of the passenger first. The 3,600-person strong SSP America team is led by a seasoned group of restaurant professionals who operate an extensive portfolio of local, proprietary and national brands created by culinary celebrities and leading industry experts. www.foodtravelexperts.com/america
About Big Apple Burgers
New York native John Cestare and partners of Big Apple Burgers have been in the restaurant and nightlife industry over 20 years with many successful national brands.
Lori Moretti or Meghan Almquist
(617) 536 – 3400
Armstrong Becomes Top Expansion Pick : NBA: Raptors take guard from Bulls. Massenburg also headed to Toronto while Lakers lose Harvey to Vancouver.
Having been traded three times in five seasons, Benoit Benjamin began a new phase of his career when he was claimed by the Vancouver Grizzlies in Saturday’s expansion draft.
Benjamin, a former Clipper, Sonic and Laker, now becomes a former Net. He is thought to have been taken because his contract is up next summer so it might not be wise to buy a house in Vancouver unless he wants to retire there.
Former Bull guard B.J. Armstrong was the first choice of the Toronto Raptors, but he might never make it across the border.
Armstrong, 27, was left unprotected in a surprise move by the Bulls. He has been mentioned in trade talks with the Charlotte Hornets and Washington Bullets and might become the first ex-Raptor by Wednesday’s college draft.
The first Grizzly was Knick guard Greg Anthony.
Both the Lakers and Clippers lost a power forward. The Raptors used their second pick for the Clippers’ Tony Massenburg, a pleasant surprise in his return from Europe last season when he averaged more than 25 minutes.
The Grizzlies used their third pick to select the Lakers’ 6-10 Antonio Harvey, a second-year man who played less than 10 minutes a game last season.
Raptor General Manager Isiah Thomas took two veterans he can trade--Armstrong and Miami’s John Salley--plus roly-poly Oliver Miller, who has been expanding most of his career and left Detroit at 335 pounds.
However, Thomas went primarily for young players like last season’s failed No. 1 picks, B.J. Tyler of the 76ers and Dontonio Wingfield of the Sonics. Wingfield had left the University of Cincinnati after his freshman year.
Thomas also took the Celtics’ 1993 bust, Acie Earl, and Maverick disappointment Doug Smith.
The Grizzlies and General Manager Stu Jackson got one hot young player, the Suns’ Trevor Ruffin, and more veterans: ex-Laker Byron Scott (34), Gerald Wilkins (31), Benjamin (30), Kenny Gattison (30) and Blue Edwards (29).
Benjamin’s selection leaves the Nets with two centers: Yinka Dare, last spring’s No. 1 pick whose rookie season added up to three minutes and one air ball and Dwayne Schintzius who averaged two points and two rebounds.
Net General Manager Willis Reed wanted to leave 1992 No. 1 pick Rex Walters unprotected, but Net owners told him to dangle the higher-priced Benjamin and Dare.
The Lakers left two players unprotected: Harvey and 33-year-old Sedale Threatt.
The Clippers, with more players under contract, exposed Massenburg, Elmore Spencer, Bo Outlaw, Randy Woods and Eric Riley.
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)
The players selected by the Toronto Raptors and the Vancouver Grizzlies in Saturday’s NBA expansion draft, with the number at which the player was drafted:
1. B.J. Armstrong, 6-2, guard, Chicago 3. Tony Massenburg, 6-9, forward, Clippers 5. Andres Guibert, 6-10, forward, Minnesota 7. Keith Jennings, 5-7, guard, Golden State 9. Dontonio Wingfield, 6-8, forward, Seattle 11. Doug Smith, 6-10, forward, Dallas 13. Jerome Kersey, 6-7, forward, Portland 15. Zan Tabak, 7-0, center, Houston 17. Willie Anderson, 6-8, guard, San Antonio 19. Ed Pinckney, 6-9, forward, Milwaukee 21. Acie Earl, 6-10, center, Boston 23. B.J. Tyler, 6-1, guard, Philadelphia 25. John Salley, 6-11, forward, Miami 27. Oliver Miller, 6-9, center, Detroit
2. Greg Anthony, 6-2, guard, New York 4. Rodney Dent, 6-9, forward, Orlando 6. Antonio Harvey, 6-11, forward, Lakers 8. Reggie Slater, 6-7, forward, Denver 10. Trevor Ruffin, 6-4, guard, Phoenix 12. Derrick Phelps, 6-4, guard, Sacramento 14. Larry Stewart, 6-8, forward, Washington 16. Kenny Gattison, 6-8, forward, Charlotte 18. Byron Scott, 6-4, guard, Indiana 20. Gerald Wilkins, 6-6, guard, Cleveland 22. Benoit Benjamin, 7-0, center, New Jersey 24. Doug Edwards, 6-7, forward, Atlanta 26. Blue Edwards, 6-4, forward, Utah
Wahlberg Brothers Bring Burger Concept to Canada
Wahlburgers, the U.S.-based burger concept launched by executive chef Paul Wahlberg and brothers Mark and Donnie will announce the next step in a North American expansion with the debut of its first Canadian location at Toronto’s SoHo Metropolitan Hotel.
Wahlburgers Canada is a collaboration of the Wahlbergs with Bruce Greenberg, president of Starwood Group Michael Wekerle, executive chairman of Difference Capital and Henry Wu, president of Metropolitan Hotels.
Inspired by their love for the burger and the casual comfort food of their Boston childhood, the Wahlberg brothers opened the original Wahlburgers in October 2011 as a chef-driven burger concept. The menu features fresh, made-to-order burgers, along with family-favorite recipes made with locally sourced, house-made ingredients.
“My brothers and I are thrilled to announce the opening of our Canadian location at the SoHo Metropolitan Hotel,” says Paul Wahlberg, executive chef of Wahlburgers. “Having spent a lot of time in the city, we have a strong connection to Toronto and appreciate the vibrant food culture. The Toronto Wahlburgers location will help build on that by using local purveyors to bring our menu to life.”
The Wahlburgers menu places emphasis on its use of locally sourced and house-made ingredients. The Toronto location will reflect the brand’s philosophy of partnering with local food purveyors, as well as feature signature house-made ingredients like Paul’s original Wahl sauce.
- Donnie’s Choice: “The BBQ Bacon Burger” topped with white Cheddar cheese, bacon, and avocado, finished with jalapenos and a house-made BBQ sauce
- Mark’s Choice: “The Thanksgiving Burger” made with fresh ground and seasoned turkey dressed with Paul’s orange cranberry sauce, homemade roasted butternut squash, and stuffing
- Paul’s Choice: The Wahlburgers original “Our Burger” made fresh to order with the restaurant’s special blend of beef topped with government cheese (American cheese), dill pickles, lettuce, tomato, onion, and finished with the signature Wahl sauce
While burgers are the main focus, Wahlburgers offers a variety of sandwiches and salads. Other specialties include a selection of house sides like Mom’s Macaroni Salad, sweet potato tots, fresh cut fries, and onions rings, along with ice cream frappes and adult frappes, Paul’s grown-up, alcohol-fortified version of the ice cream beverage.
Like its U.S. counterpart, Wahlburgers Canada will showcase a sports bar, seated dining, and quick-service restaurant all under one roof, offering a family-friendly dining experience. The restaurant is slated for an early 2014 opening date.
Wahlburgers will celebrate the announcement of its first Canadian location on Monday, September 9, with a “green carpet” event at the SoHo Metropolitan Hotel. Chef Paul Wahlberg and brother Mark will attend the event, along with family, friends, and VIP guests.