In 2011, Blue Bloods star Donnie Wahlberg joined forces with brothers Paul and Mark in opening the very first Wahlburgers. The first location of the wildly popular restaurant chain is located in Paul’s hometown, Hingham, Massachusetts.
Proving himself to be a man of many talents, Donnie first found fame in the popular boyband New Kids on the Block. Since then, the Boston native has added many roles to his resume. Actor, producer, and with the opening of the Wahlburger franchise, restauranteur.
While the restaurant business isn’t the main role for the actor, Donnie has made sure that it does have a priority in his busy schedule. He has been involved in the development of Wahlburgers since day one.
“Before we launched I was taking the train from New York to Boston pretty much every other day to help design the interior of the restaurant, to design the menus, to craft the mission statement, to do taste-testing,” Donnie Wahlberg told Entrepreneur in a 2015 interview.
While he loved getting involved, Donnie added that one of his favorite jobs was that of taste tester.
“I probably gained 20 pounds in two months tasting all of the food every other day,” the star said in the interview. “It was a LOT, like every milkshake, every burger.”
Donnie Wahlberg Finds a Taste of Home in Burger Franchise
For the Blue Bloods star, home and food have long been synonymous. The eighth of nine children, the former boy band star grew up on the outskirts of Boston. Donnie remembers the family often struggled to scrape by.
While times could be tough, Donnie Wahlberg told Entrepreneur that dinner time was often his favorite. Donnie noted that the family dinnerswere “the one time of day that we knew we’d all be together.”
Donnie told Entrepreneur that the Wahlberg family relied heavily on food stamps to get by. Despite this, his parents made unforgettable meals with the little they had available. His mother, Alma would make delicious spreads for the lively clan to enjoy. Additionally, Donnie’s father Donald would make unforgettable burger patties topped with Donnie’s favorite cheese; the cheese the family received from the government.
That same cheese says Wahlberg told Entrepreneur, remains his favorite to this day. It even tops many of the Wahlburgers’ signature burgers.
Restaurants Are a Family Affair For the Wahlberg Brothers
In the franchise, each of the brothers plays an important role. Paul is the chef, and, as Donnie says, Mark Wahlberg brings the Hollywood connections. According to Donnie, his role is as a “go-between” keeping the peace between the older sibling Paul, and the “baby” of the family, Mark.
“Paul handles the food aspects and I’m more of the creative hand in it, dealing with the nuts and bolts with Paul, connecting our family history to it,” Donnie said in an interview. “Mark connects Wahlburgers to Hollywood to market the show even more and he literally runs around the world trying to open franchises in every country.”
Currently, the Wahlburgers franchise boasts 49 in the United States from California, to Texas, to Wisconsin and New Jersey. There are also two locations in Canada and one in Germany.