City Weekend gets an exclusive interview with Hollywood celebrity and actor/producer Mark Wahlberg on the opening of American burger chain Wahlburgers. Wahlburgers is run by the Wahlberg family and will be expanding to Asia, starting with its first three locations in Shanghai, Hangzhou and Wuhan. We ask Mark Wahlberg about his burger likes and dislikes and what we should expect from Wahlburgers in China.
City Weekend: Which came first, the punny name or the idea to open a burger restaurant?
Mark Wahlberg: The idea of a burgers restaurant was first. Growing up, we all loved to eat burgers, so it made sense to leverage Paul’s expertise to open a burger concept. Of course, once that was decided, the name Wahlburgers was a natural.
CW: What has been the biggest challenge to get started in Shanghai?
MW: We are early in the process, so I don’t think we’ve yet faced what will be our biggest challenge in opening in Shanghai. It will of course be the start of building our brand in one of the world’s largest markets, and in a city with very high standards for food. So, I’m sure delivering a fantastic experience that does credit to both our brand and Shanghai will be a challenge, but we are up for the challenge.
CW: How much can we expect the menu in China to differ from what Wahlburger serves in the States?
MW: Our partners and we agree that, at its core, what we need to deliver is a Wahlburgers experience built around our core products. Having said that, of course we need to adapt the menu to satisfy local tastes. That balance will be developed in conjunction with David Laris, Wahlburgers Asia Pacific’s very talented concept leader who will team with Paul on adapting Wahlburgers for China.
CW: Wahlburgers serves “a spin on Wahlberg family favorites”. What does your mother think of the food? Did you have to get her approval on the final product?
MW: Alma loves the food! She even made her own contribution to the menu with Alma’s macaroni salad.
CW: Tell us a little bit about it was like eating in the Wahlberg household growing up.
MW: My mom and my dad always made sure that every meal was special. We always ate together.