Wahlburgers: Mark Wahlberg's restaurant chain opening in New Zealand for the first time this week after months of delays

Composite of Mark Wahlberg, a Wahlburgers, and a burger
After ongoing delays, the restaurant is opening its doors this week. Photo credit: Getty Images, @wahlburgers / Instagram

Wahlburgers, the international chain of burger joints owned by actor Mark Wahlberg and his brothers, will finally open its doors in Aotearoa after a raft of setbacks. 

The restaurant will officially begin welcoming customers in Auckland on Wednesday, March 1 after initially being slated for a late 2022 opening

It was announced last year that the family-owned fast-food chain had nabbed prime real estate on Auckland's bustling waterfront, located at Shed 22 on Princes Wharf - the site of the former Euro Bar and Restaurant, which fell victim to the pandemic in 2021 after 22 years of service.

Due to issues with shipping, original plans to open the restaurant between September and November 2022 were delayed, with Sam Mustaca, the CEO of United Cinemas New Zealand and WBIP (trading as Wahlburgers New Zealand), saying at the time an exact date couldn't be given. 

A spokesperson confirmed Wahlburgers will hold up to 240 patrons and will be operated by the Mustaca family, the owners of United Cinemas - Australia's largest independent cinema chain.

"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," Mark Wahlberg said in a statement given to media on Monday.

"It 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."

In a statement, Mustaca said he is "thrilled to bring Wahlburgers to guests here 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," Mustaca said.

"We think it's going to be a big hit."

Two more Wahlburgers have been slated to launch this year in Tauranga and Queenstown, with the latter expected to open its doors between April and May in the Upper Village - meaning the resort town's iconic institution Fergburger could be in for some competition. The Bay of Plenty branch is to be located at the current United Cinema site at Tauranga's Bayfair Shopping Centre.

Wahlberg, 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 hospitality industry and giving viewers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the venture.

The burger chain opened its doors Down Under for the first time in February 2022 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.