Hollywood actor Mark Wahlberg is a step closer to bringing his American burger chain to New Zealand after announcing a first Australian venue.
The famed Wahlburgers will open its first Australian store in Circular Quay, Sydney, before Christmas 2021, Wahlberg said yesterday.
His Australian business partner, Sam Mustaca, told the Herald that plans were still on track to open one restaurant in Auckland and potentially another in Mount Maunganui, although he was vague about the opening date, indicating "mid next year" for the Auckland one.
The initial plan was to open mid this year but the rollout had been delayed by Covid-19.
The Wahlburger chain is a casual dining restaurant and bar founded by Mark and his brothers Donnie and chef Paul Wahlberg.
They are planning on opening 19 restaurants in Australia over the next five years, plus at least one in New Zealand.
"Australia will open, subject to Covid-19 restrictions, by Christmas 2021, creating 65 jobs," Mustaca said.
"It will be open all day from breakfast to late at night and offer a full menu with a couple of Aussie classics, premier bar, full breakfast, coffee/espresso bar, merchandise and souvenirs."
"It's a big sports bar experience sort of that big American Hollywood flair.
Wahlburgers is known for its beef burgers, loaded tater tots, boozy shakes, and house beer. It also servers other American items like sloppy Joes and chilli mac and cheese.
The 20 restaurants to be opened over the next five years will create over 500 jobs and represents a $50 million investment, Mustaca said.
The Auckland restaurant, planned for the CBD would host about 250 diners, he said, adding that the Mount Manganui venue could be located inside the complex of the United Cinemas at Bayfair.
"One to two [stores] until we get to five and then we'll regroup and just see where the market lands for Wahlberg in NZ," Mustaca said.
The United Cinemas is owned and operated by the Mustaca family, across Australia since 1987.
Bayfair Shopping Centre in Mount Maunganui was a $115 million development project which was completed in December 2020 and was opened on Boxing day the same year.