Actor Mark Wahlberg is bringing his family-owned burger chain to Aotearoa this year, nabbing prime real estate on Auckland's bustling waterfront.
The Ted star, who cut his teeth in the music biz as 'Marky Mark' before transitioning to the big screen, founded Wahlburgers in 2011 with his brothers Donnie and Paul, the latter of whom is the chef behind Wahlburgers' hearty, American-style menu.
In 2014, the reality show Wahlburgers premiered in the US and ran for a whopping 10 seasons, documenting the family's move into the restaurant industry and giving viewers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the venture.
Now, the international chain will open its first restaurant in New Zealand this year, securing the site that formerly housed the popular fine-dining establishment, Euro - which fell victim to the pandemic last year after 22 years of service. Wahlburgers will be situated on Princes Wharf, a location with stunning sea views in Auckland's vibrant downtown district.
Wahlburgers Australia and New Zealand chief executive Sam Mustaca confirmed the venue will cater to a maximum of 240 diners.
In a statement, Wahlberg said he is "really looking forward" to opening the first Wahlburgers in New Zealand and he hopes to visit "soon". An exact opening date has yet to be announced.
According to Mustaca, Wahlburgers is planning to expand its franchise throughout Aotearoa, with the exec currently scouting locations in Queenstown - meaning the resort town's iconic institution Fergburger could be in for some competition. Tauranga, Wellington and Christchurch have also secured spots on the franchise's hit list, he said, with a number of other venues also expected to crop up across the ditch in partnership with United Cinemas.
The burger chain opened its doors Down Under for the first time in February with the launch of its Sydney venue, updating its American-style menu with some local adaptations including vegemite aioli and a beetroot-and-egg burger.
Its Americana fare spans hefty beef burgers, boozy shakes, beer and loaded tater tots - deep-fried potato bites - as well as sloppy joes and mac and cheese.
As reported by the New Zealand Herald, it's understood at least two members of the famous family will travel to Auckland to attend the grand opening in-person.