Actor, rapper and entrepreneur Mark Wahlberg’s first New Zealand restaurant will open its doors in Auckland this week.
Aotearoa’s first-ever Wahlburgers restaurant will open at Shed 22 on Princes Wharf at midday this Wednesday.
The NZ branch will be operated by the Mustaca family which owns Australia’s largest independent cinema chain, United Cinemas.
Wahlberg, who has an estimated US$350 million net worth, founded Wahlburgers in 2011 with his brothers Donnie and Paulie Wahlberg.
He said, “I am excited to be working with the Mustaca family as they bring Wahlburgers to New Zealand. I love all the things we have in common, especially family, film, and music.
“I’m really looking forward to opening the first Wahlburgers in New Zealand and I hope to visit soon.”
While Paulie is the chef behind the Wahlburgers menu, Donnie found fame as a member of 1980s boy band New Kids on the Block. A 10-season reality show on the brothers’ venture wrapped in 2019.
Last year, the Herald reported that at least two Wahlberg brothers are expected to attend the event.
Wahlberg said the business “all started with my brother, Chef Paul, who has spent his entire career in the kitchen.
“For the last 10 years, he’s dedicated himself to delivering guests an exceptional experience, no matter where in the world they are visiting a Wahlburgers. We’re excited to open the first location in New Zealand and are looking forward to growing the brand with the Mustaca family.”
Two more Wahlburgers have been announced to open this year, in the Bay of Plenty and Queenstown.
The international chain of 91 restaurants will open its first New Zealand Wahlburgers in the former Euro restaurant site at Princes Wharf.
Last year, Wahlburgers Australia and New Zealand chief executive Sam Mustaca scouted locations across Tauranga, Wellington and Christchurch.
Mustaca said the team are “thrilled to bring Wahlburgers to guests in New Zealand”.
“We had been following the concept for years and with its natural ties to the entertainment industry, bringing Wahlburgers into the experience at United Cinemas just seemed like a perfect fit,” he said.
Mustaca said the team is planning to expand to locations around the country, “including the current United Cinema site at Bayfair Shopping Centre at Tauranga, in the Bay of Plenty and also Queenstown.
“With really great food, beers and a fun atmosphere, we think it’s going to be a big hit.”
He said the decision to expand to New Zealand was motivated by their Kiwi staff overseas.
“They’ve always spoken so beautifully about the place. If it wasn’t for those people we probably wouldn’t have come here.”
A Wahlburgers opened in Sydney last year with menu items including burgers featuring beetroot and egg, and vegemite aioli.