The Untold Truth Of Wahlburgers

Mark Wahlberg and his brother, Donnie Wahlberg of Blue Bloods and New Kids on the Block fame, as well as their brother Paul, have another family project outside of the entertainment industry. They own Wahlburgers, a hamburger fast food restaurant chain. Being the Wahlbergs, they brought the restaurant into the entertainment industry, creating a reality show about running a restaurant with your family (via Babble Top). 

Of course, two actors, one a former rapper, and the other a former member of a boy band, aren't the first people who come to mind when you think about restaurant expertise. Good thing Paul Wahlberg is a chef, and the executive chef at Wahlburgers. Previously, he opened an Italian restaurant, Alma Nove, named after their mother, Alma.

Still, the path to arriving at the name Wahlburgers wasn't a smooth one. Mark Wahlberg was not a fan of the name, and had concerns that it would hurt his brand as an entertainer. Hamburger restaurants don't exactly bring cachet to dramatic film roles. However, Mark agreed to the name as along as they made a reality show about the restaurant to build the brand.

Smooth sailing from there? Not exactly, as the restaurant has faced legal trouble.

The beginning of Wahlburgers

The story of Wahlburgers begins with the name. A restaurant in Rochester, New York called Tom Wahl's was famous for its burgers, which were called Wahlburgers. Tom Wahl had taken out a federal trademark on his burger's name. The Wahlberg family then licensed the name to use for their restaurants. And, Wahl made good money!

Wahlburgers officially opened in 2011, serving burgers, hot dogs, and sandwiches. The show followed in 2014 on A&E. It ran for eight seasons, airing 75 episodes. Though Mark and Donnie appear on the show, the main character is Paul, who does the day-to-day running of Wahlburgers (via Screen Rant).

Business partner problems

In 2012, Wahlburgers faced the legal issues. The Wahlberg brothers and their company CEO, Rick Vanzura, sued their former business partner, Edward St. Croix, for breach of duties. It alleged that St. Croix was guilty of, according to the suit, "improper conduct, gross mismanagement, and breach of duties."

In 2013, St. Croix and William Leonard, another business partner from the original Wahlburgers location in Hingham, Massachusetts, countersued them, claiming the Wahlbergs had mismanaged company funds, using them for private expenses, including paying salaries to Paul's wife and their mother, and renting a private jet for Mark and charging it to Alma Nove. This was not Wahlburgers only legal trouble (via Eater).

A lawsuit was filed against Wahlburgers for skimming wages from employees at the Coney Island location of the restaurant. That's still not the end of it. St. Croix and Leonard also alleged that the Wahlberg family had cut them out of the reality television show about the restaurant. They also claimed the Wahlbergs left them out of plans to franchise even though they had worked at designing the interior and menu for the restaurant. The suit also claims that St. Croix came up with the idea for Wahlburgers and to do a reality show.

Even with these legal troubles, Wahlburgers is a popular restaurant. And though "burger" is in the name, Wahlburgers caters to their vegetarian customers. In 2018, Wahlburgers added a menu offering called the "Impossible Burger," which is made with vegan ingredients, but is still supposed to taste like a real burger.

Wahlburgers' ties to television

Fans of the television show Entourage, which was loosely based on Mark Wahlberg's life, will appreciate how Wahlburgers features the real life person that the character Johnny Drama (played by Kevin Dillon) was based on. Johnny Alves, a cousin of the Wahlberg's, has appeared on the reality show. He originally worked as a bodyguard for Donnie Wahlberg. He then became, essentially, a minder for Mark Wahlberg, with his job being to keep Mark out of trouble.

Another interesting fact about Wahlburgers is that for some unknown reason, probably due to their movie star connections, they have their own sneaker. It is a Nike Air Jordan sneaker that can only be ordered online through the Nike website. It features the Wahlburgers logo and colors. 

Wahlburgers currently has locations in 18 states, Canada, Germany, and the United Kingdom (via Wahlburgers).