If you’ve watched any sort of action movie in the last ten years, then you’ve definitely seen Mark Wahlberg doing his thing on screen. Whether he’s fighting robots, battling terrorists, or just being a dad, he always seems like he enjoys what he’s doing. He’s one of the most bankable stars in Hollywood, and it seems like he always has a project on the go. He’s worked with directors like Peter Berg, Michael Bay, even Martin Scorsese. However, acting isn’t the only thing that Mark Wahlberg has been getting up to. Along with his brothers Donnie and Paul, Mark has also founded a successful chain of restaurants called Wahlburgers. The restaurant has become known for its interesting burgers, frappes, and delicious side dishes. The restaurant even spawned a reality show following the trials of owning a dining establishment with your family members. Obviously it’s not always easy, and there are challenges that you might not expect, but hard work and putting in the time to make something great can pay off in the best ways. Despite its popularity, there are still a lot of things people might not know about Wahlburgers or the Wahlberg family in general. Their story is actually a lot more interesting than you might assume, and it hasn’t always been easy to be a Wahlberg. The family has worked hard and stuck together through it all, and they have created one of the most interesting burger restaurants in the process. Not bad for a hardworking Boston family! These are the top ten untold truths about Wahlburgers.
10. The restaurant has its own Air Jordan sneakers
Normally it’s only athletes (and sometimes musicians) who get their own sneaker deal. It makes sense. These are the people who wear sneakers where they can be seen, on stage and on the court. If you put their faces in advertisements, people say, “hey, I recognize that person, they wear those shoes. I would also like to wear those shoes.” After all, sneaker companies know what they’re doing. They make smart deals, and they get the right people to appear in their advertisements (even if they sometimes make a specific group of people very upset for very bad reasons). You definitely wouldn’t expect a burger restaurant to have its own line of Air Jordans. After all, would anyone really want to be walking around in a pair of McDonald’s themed sneakers? Or Taco Bell flip flops? Probably not, which is why fast food usually stays off of your feet. However, this is not the case with Wahlburgers. There is actually a custom line of the famous Nike kicks modelled after Wahlburgers’ logo and colors. The shoes are not available in retail stores, but can be ordered through the Nike website. Mark Wahlberg first shared a photo of the emerald green basketball shoes on his instagram, with the caption “Wahlburgers x Jordan Formula 23. Thank you @jumpman23 and Reggie for making this happen. More to come.”
9. They had to buy the name “Wahlburger” from someone else
You would think that with the last name ‘Wahlberg,’ opening a chain of burger joints called Wahlburgers would be the easiest thing in the world. After all, who else would have thought of that idea? The odds are far too low for something to stand in the way of success. However, that actually was the case with the Wahlberg family on their road to slinging patties at their own place. There was actually another restaurant chain called Tom Wahl’s. The restaurant had some locations in and around Rochester, New York, but it was mostly known for its burger which was called, what else? The Wahlburger. This obviously presented a problem for the Wahlberg family. How could they have their own chain of restaurants called Wahlburgers while this other Wahlburger existed? Short answer: they couldn’t, not without striking some kind of deal. So, that’s what they did. See, Tom Wahl had the foresight to protect his intellectual property. He took out a federal trademark on the name “wahlburger.” It was a pretty smart business move, considering that it probably made him a fair amount of money later on in life. The Wahlberg family licensed the name “Wahlburger,” and the rest is history.
8. The restaurant has been involved in lawsuits
It hasn’t always been easy being the Wahlberg family and owning a chain of restaurants. Like all business ventures, there have been issues, specifically legal ones, that have popped up along the way. Some of them involve the employees of Wahlburgers, and a couple of them involve the original business partners. Originally, the Wahlbergs and their CEO Rick Vanzura sued a former business partner named Edward St. Croix in 2012. The suit alleged that St. Croix was guilty of “improper conduct, gross mismanagement, and breach of duties.” That doesn’t sound too great, but St. Croix ended up filing a countersuit in 2013 claiming the Wahloberg family had mismanaged company funds and used them for private expenses. Later, another suit was filed against the company for skimming wages from employees’ pay cheques, a practice that was going on at the Coney Island location of Wahlburgers. That’s not really a good look for a company that claims to care about their employees. Finally, a third lawsuit was filed against the company when St. Croix and another business partner, Billy Leonard, alleged that the Wahlberg family was cutting them out of the loop in regards to the television show about the restaurant chain. All of these lawsuits haven’t stopped Wahlburgers from flourishing, and the show is still doing pretty well, so that’s something to consider.
7. They sell a 100% meatless burger
More and more people are turning toward vegetarianism and veganism than ever before. Even those who aren’t going all the way are at the very least trying to cut down on their meat consumption. This might be due to health reasons, and it might also be in protest of factory farming. Either way, people are looking for meat alternatives, and they’re not happy with the run if the mill veggie burgers that are available. Many of these are high in carbs and made of all kinds of things that could possibly be less healthy than just eating the meat you’re avoiding. However, a few restaurant chains have now taken to creating new burger patties that are completely plant based, yet can still replicate the flavor of a beef patty. Wahlburgers is one of those chains. They recently started selling what they call the “Impossible Burger.” This burger is made with all vegan friendly ingredients, but even seasoned meat eaters might not be able to tell the difference. It just goes to show that no matter how big a chain gets, they can still find ways to innovate on something even as simple as a burger. Wahlburgers might not have been the first restaurant to set the trend, but you have to give them some credit for getting in on the action while the trend is hot.
6. Paul has a second restaurant called Alma Nove
Paul Wahlberg is the executive chef behind the brilliant burgers at the Wahlberg family restaurant, but he is not just responsible for Wahlburgers. In fact, he had a previous restaurant before he started working with his brothers to create new and exciting variations on the humble hamburger. Alma Nove, Paul’s first restaurant, specializes in Italian cuisine, and includes dishes such as homemade gnocchi, cavatelli, and roasted duck breast. However, you have to admit that cooking all of that fancy food might make you yearn for just hanging out behind a grill and making something more casual, yet fancy. Something like a really crazy burger, which Paul does with gusto. The restaurant is actually named after the family matriarch, Alma, who is almost as good a cook as Paul (if not better). It’s not hard to see where the cooking skill in the family came from when you see photos of Alma’s pasta dishes. Clearly Paul had a lot of inspiration when he was growing up. That’s lucky for the general public, who now get to enjoy his cooking prowess whenever they want. He might not be a big actor like Mark, or married to Jenny McCarthy like Donnie, but Paul clearly has his own niche in the Wahlberg family, and it has earned him a net worth of over a million dollars. Not bad for someone who gets to just do what they love every day.
5. Mark Wahlberg didn’t like the name at first
If Mark Wahlberg doesn’t like an idea, you can bet he will make it known. After all, he’s just that kind of outspoken person. So if he wants you to know something, you better believe you’re going to know it by the time he’s done with you. That was a big issue in the beginning of Wahlburgers, because surprisingly, Mark didn’t like the name. Now, you might wonder why someone wouldn’t want their name associated with a delicious burger. Isn’t that a great way to be remembered? Apparently not for ol’ Marky Mark, who said he didn’t like the name because he assumed it would hurt his brand. See, Mark was already at this point a big Hollywood star, and he wasn’t entirely sure how having his name attached to a burger chain was going to affect his reputation. That’s a fair point, but Paul assured Mark that it would be the right decision. Mark eventually relented, but on a few conditions. He said that the brothers had to pour everything they had into the chain to make it as successful as possible. They also had to have a reality show about, in order to build on the brand. The gambit worked, and Wahlburgers became hugely successful. It just goes to show that sometimes you have to make a gamble if you want to win. In this case, Mark made the right choice.
4. The Wahlberg family came up from nothing
There’s nothing more inspiring or representative of the American dream than a story about someone who came from nothing and ended being a huge deal. Those kinds of stories are inspiring because they make you believe that the same thing could happen to you: that one day you might come up with a great idea and potentially make it really big and get rich. Well, that’s exactly how it was for the Wahlberg family. There wasn’t always the level of fam and success like there is now. In fact, it was practically the complete opposite. The Wahlberg brothers grew up relatively poor on the south side of Boston. The brothers have talked about their hardships on the show, mentioning the fact that some nights they wouldn’t have anything for dinner except cereal, or really anything that they had in the cupboard. It’s not surprising to learn that Paul wanted to cook. He probably had to be pretty creative growing up, trying to figure out how to make a delicious meal with whatever food was available. Clearly those hard times helped to inform the Wahlbergs later in life, as they have all poured themselves into their creative and business endeavors. The family always worked hard to keep their heads above water, and now they are doing better than ever. Talk about rags to riches!
3. The show features the real Johnny Drama
Anyone who knows about the work of Mark Wahlberg knows that he was one of the executive producers on the show Entourage, which was loosely based on his life. One of the most endearing characters on that show was Johnny Drama, played by Kevin Dillon. Johnny Drama was the older brother of the show’s main character, Vince, and even though he had been in Hollywood longer than his younger sibling, he never managed to make it quite as big. He was always looking for the next opportunity, but knew that he basically had to take work in commercials, television, and B movies to get by. Johnny Drama, unsurprisingly, was actually based on a real person. Johnny “Drama” Alves, who has appeared on the Wahlburgers television show, is a cousin of Mark Wahlberg. He was originally hired as a bodyguard for Mark by his older brother., Donny. However, Drama was not tasked with keeping Mark safe, but rather with keeping him in line and out of trouble. Luckily, he managed to do that for the most part, and Mark has maintained his Hollywood stardom to this day. It just goes to show, that family will always look out for you, even when you’re making it big in Hollywood. However, the real Johnny Drama never really managed to make it even as big as the fictitious Johnny Drama.
2. The Wahlbergs are related to Nathaniel Hawthorne
Many famous people also happen to be related to other famous people. That’s not entir ly surprising, considering how far a family tree can branch out, but what is surprising is who these famous people sometimes happen to be related to. For example, you wouldn’t think that the Wahlbergs could possibly be related to one of the great American authors, but it just so happens that they have a familial link to Nathaniel Hawthorne, the author of The Scarlet Letter. It’s a pretty crazy connection to make, and not one that you might think is even possible, but it’s true. The Wahlbergs, after all, have quite a mixed family background. Their family tree has a lot of branches that you definitely wouldn’t expect reaching across the globe. Along with Hawthorne being related to the Wahlbergs, there are also family connections to Celine Dion and Madonna. Suffice to say that the Wahlberg family tree is loaded up with all kinds of talent, whether it’s someone who wrote one of the great American novels, to someone who sang one of the most memorable movie theme songs of all time. Along with all of that, you also have great cooks like Alma and Paul who are still just doing their thing. Maybe as a promotion, they could replace the ‘A’ in Wahlburgers with a giant, red one. People might not get it, but if they did, they would probably chuckle.
1. Donnie and Mark got their start in music
You might just think of Mark Wahlberg as an action hero now, and you might just see Donnie as his business partner, but they were so much more than that back in the 80’s. Oh yes, that’s right. Both Mark Wahlberg and Donnie Wahlberg started their careers in the music business. Mark was a member of a rap group known as Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. The Funky Bunch had a few hits, like “Good Vibrations” and “Wildside.” Ultimately though, the Funky Bunch would not last long in the grand scheme of things, and Mark would eventually transition into an acting career (which ended up paying off very well for him, so good choice). Meanwhile, Donnie was a member of pioneering boy band New Kids on the Block. NKOTB were one of the hottest, biggest, and most popular acts of their time, paving the way for other boy bands to come in the future. Whether you think that’s a good or a bad thing is your opinion, but it’s the truth. Overall, the Wahlbergs have had varied careers and lives, leading them to the success that they have today. It hasn’t always been easy, but by sticking together and putting family first, the Wahlbergs have created a business empire that will probably just keep growing.