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» A-List Actor to Open Burger Restaurant in Boston
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A-List Actor to Open Burger Restaurant in Boston

By • Aug 31st, 2011 • Category: Burger Blog

Underwear model. Rapper. Oscar nominee. Soon, Mark Wahlberg will add a new line to his resume: Burger baron. That’s because the 40-year-old star of Boogie Nights, The Perfect Storm, and The Departed will be opening up a 4,300 square-foot burger joint in Boston.

Copyright 2007 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

That’s Mark and his older brother Donnie- himself a celeb as one of the original New Kids on the Block- who’ll also be one of the burgermeisters behind the new venture. Also in on the deal is another Wahlberg brother, Paul, an established chef, shown here in an AP photo with Mark and Mama Wahlberg, Alma.

The name of the restaurant (as if you couldn’t have guessed by now) will be Wahlburgers. “It just works,” Ed St. Croix, Paul’s business partner, told the Boston Herald. “It’s a good-sounding brand, so we could put out the product with a great name people could relate to.”

Yeah, tell that to the folks in upstate New York. That’s where they’ve been enjoying Wahlburgers for over fifty years! Turns out that the “great name people could relate to” already belonged to a small chain of eight restaurants called Tom Wahl’s in and around Rochester.

Their longtime specialty, the Wahlburger, is a “ground steak sandwich” topped with melted Swiss cheese, grilled smoked ham, lettuce, and the ubiquitous special sauce. USA Today even chose it to represent the Empire State in their list of 51 great burger joints in 2010, passing up NYC heavy hitters like Shake Shack, The Spotted Pig, Burger Barrel, and BLT Burger. (As for that “ground steak” thing, Tom Wahl’s makes a big fat deal out of that. The word “hamburger” is not allowed on the premises, in an attempt to distinguish its product from everyone else’s. There was even a sign at one time that read, “Do Not Say the ‘H’ Word.”)

The Rochester faithful were reportedly not eager to give away their locally-famous sandwich to a fancy-pants actor just because he liked the name. “We have a trademark on that name,” explained a Tom Wahl’s staffer when asked by WHAM-TV. “I’d be very disappointed because we get these all the time- once a week,” one customer said. Another agreed, ”I think it would just be unfair. They should be the ones to change.”

Photo by Michael Johnson, special to the Daily News in upstate NY

Yeah, right. The Wahlbergs rolled into town- presumably with a posse of lawyers in tow and their A-list checkbook at the ready- and a deal was soon struck. The Wahlbergs were able to secure “full-spectrum” rights to the name Wahlburger (for an undisclosed amount, of course). With 80 seats indoors and another 40 on an outdoor patio, Wahlburgers (complete with full liquor license) will open soon in Boston’s Hingham Shipyard, across the street from the brothers’ Italian restaurant, Alma Nove, named for their mother. The group also has plans on a pizza joint next spring.

As for Tom Wahl’s, they’ll get to keep that name on their restaurants, but will have to come up with a new moniker for their signature sammie. I vote for “The Marky Mark Burger.”

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