Metro, Food, Top Story

Burgers & Brotherly Love: Wahlburgers Opens First Boston Location In Fenway

At first glance, the new Wahlburgers in Fenway might look like any regular fast-food joint. Walk through the doors of the Wahlberg brothers’ latest creation and the first thing you will see is a large kitchen with employees quickly shuffling around to serve “Wahlfaves” to take-out customers. But if you make your way around the corner toward the back of the room, you will see a full-service restaurant and bar—with a number of mementos from Mark, Donnie, and Paul’s childhood in Dorchester, Mass., and movie posters of Mark Wahlberg in Invincible, Ted, and Lone Survivor up on the walls. Snippets of the brothers’ A&E reality show about the business also play on the flat-screen TVs behind the bar.

“People get excited when they come in here,” said Michael Walsh, the assistant general manager of the Wahlburgers in Fenway. “They love the Wahlberg family and want to come here for a chance to see them.”

The new restaurant is the fifth and latest Wahlburgers location. The first opened in Hingham, Mass. in 2011, and has since expanded to Lynnfield, Mass., Toronto, and Coney Island in New York. The Fenway location is the third Wahlburgers to open in Massachusetts, and the brothers plan to open a fourth spot later this year at Logan Airport inside Terminal C.

“The Hingham location was very successful, but when the TV show came on and everyone fell in love with Paul, our numbers have skyrocketed,” Walsh said. “The family is the driving force behind this.”

Walsh explained that much of Wahlburgers’ success can be attributed to the popularity of Donnie and Mark, but Paul Wahlberg is the secret sauce behind the restaurants. Paul has been in the restaurant business for more than 30 years, and is the executive chef who runs the operations of the three Massachusetts locations. All nine of the Wahlberg siblings are involved with Wahlburgers, and they occasionally visit the restaurants and interact with customers.

Wahlburgers features a large menu with a variety of burgers, chicken sandwiches, hot dogs, tater tots, house-made salads, and frappes. But many customers often choose among the Wahlberg brothers’ own creations—Donnie’s BBQ Bacon Burger and Paul’s Burger with his signature wahl sauce are popular items. Mark’s Thanksgiving Day sandwich, which includes fresh-ground seasoned turkey, stuffing, Paul’s orange cranberry sauce, roasted butternut squash, and mayo is another favorite menu item. Walsh also explained that the winners of the Food Network show Cupcake Wars design the cupcakes at the Fenway location.

The newest Wahlburgers offers an outdoor patio and full bar, serving a number of “Wahlbrewskis” and “Wahlcoctions.” The “Fenway Fizz” is a sparkling specialty cocktail available only at the Fenway location.

“Our menu is different,” he said. “I think many people would call it fast food, but the product we put into it is much more than that.”

The restaurant gets all of its hamburger patties from Creekstone Farms in Nebraska, and the meat from the grass-fed cattle is shipped to New Jersey before being distributed to the various Wahlburgers locations along the East Coast each day. Walsh also explained that Wahlburgers “government cheese” refers back to when the brothers were kids growing up in Dorchester, and the family didn’t have very much money.

Mark, Donnie, and Paul held an exclusive opening party on Oct. 1 at the new Fenway location. The Dorchester natives—now largely known as Hollywood’s beloved burger brothers—walked the red carpet with other reality show cast members and local celebrities, such as Rob Gronkowski, outside of the soiree before taking pictures and signing autographs. The new spot on Brookline Ave. is just three blocks away from Fenway Park, and is “holy ground” for Red Sox fans, Walsh said. Families, college students, and young adults living in the popular Fenway neighborhood have been regular customers over the past month, and Walsh expects the restaurant to have lines out the door once baseball season returns.

Looking forward, Wahlburgers is expanding quickly. The brothers are in the process of opening new restaurants in Philadelphia, Orlando, and Las Vegas in the near future. Based on the success of the TV show and the restaurants, Walsh said the company’s business plan is to open 10 new locations each year.

In the meantime, though, Walsh said the Wahlbergs are thrilled to finally have a restaurant in Boston—just a few miles from the brothers’ original stomping ground in Dorchester. For the Wahlbergs, family is everything.

“That’s the one thing they strive for, and everyone understands when they come in here—it’s all about family,” Walsh said.

Featured Images by Daniella Fasciano / Heights Editor

October 28, 2015