Mark Wahlberg is officially bringing his burger joint, Wahlburgers, over to Australia and New Zealand. In a joint venture with United Cinemas, Wahlburgers will be opening in several locations across the country by the end of 2021. Is it any good? That remains to be seen – but the reviews when Wahlburgers opened in London weren’t all that pretty.
The burger joint has a gift shop in every restaurant that sells ‘WahlGear’ dedicated to the Wahlberg family. Television screens exclusively play episodes of Wahlburgers (the 2014-2019 television series from the Wahlberg brothers about the restaurant chain,) and the menus are decorated with Wahlberg family puns and pictures, including a section that sells ‘Wahlcoctions’ instead of cocktails.
Walls (which should be called Wahls if you ask me) are also enshrined in Wahlberg movie posters, so you can expect to see some Ted, The Italian Job and Transformers action staring right at you while you dig in.
As well as an overwhelming batch of Wahl-puns, the joint, according to Wahlberg, offers up “fresh ground beef burgers, entrée salads and sandwiches, loaded tots and frothy shakes,” and now it’s coming to Wahlstralia! (Sorry, I’ll stop.)
Sam Mustaca, CEO of United Cinemas says that the cinema chain has been eying Wahlburgers for a while, given the unique blend of pop culture (specifically pop culture that Wahlberg has been apart of) and dining that it offers. I mean, a burger from THE Marky Mark? Sounds hot, I mean, delicious.
“The first Wahlburgers will be in Sydney’s CBD and we plan to roll out 20 more as stand-alone restaurants as well as in some of our United Cinema locations in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and New Zealand,” said Mustaca in a press release.
“With really great food, beers and a fun atmosphere, we think it’s going to be a big hit.”
However, when the store opened in the UK, there were some pretty flavourful reviews released about the burger joint experience, which absolutely savaged the service, food and general vibes of the chain.
The Guardian, who scored Wahlburgers a 2/10 for food, 3/10 for atmosphere and 3/10 for service, were not too pleased with the overall treatment by staff at the Covent Garden joint.
They described the store as having a “lurid green, unlovingly furnished, part-burger joint, part-sports bar” feel, and claimed that “service is worse than untrained; it’s that sort of trained where they’ve been drilled in answering seven questions only, and anything off-script or requiring empathy or gumption is best avoided.”
Meanwhile, The Independent had a similar gripe with the chain, notably calling the tater tots “testicles of soggy hash brown”, and claiming that the burgers contained a “dry, salty puck of spam-coloured mystery meat, the colour of sunburned English flesh.” Yikes.
They also labelled the food as being “tasty in a ‘how much lard can I fit in one hand’ kind of way,” which I’m sure is just British for “this is a decent feed.”
Chances are the Aussie joints won’t even be that bad, but alas, the Brits seemed pretty displeased. You can catch yourself a Wahlberg-themed Wahlburger at… well, Wahlburgers sometime in late 2021.