Marky Mark’s Wahlburgers chain looks south of the border

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The Wahlberg family of Massachusetts brought their fame to the restaurant game. Photo: Courtesy

Wahlburgers, the restaurant and bar chain founded by actor and producer Mark Wahlberg along with his brothers Donnie and Paul, is bringing the franchise to Mexico.

“We are already in talks with different groups in Mérida, Tijuana and Mexico City interested in developing the brand,” commented Alejandro Gómez Colindres, a consultant for Wahlburgers who has also helped expand the Papa John’s and Burger King brands overseas.

The casual-restaurant chain, which specializes in gourmet hamburgers in a pub-style environment, plans to build 50 restaurants across Mexico and is looking for franchisees.

“I am very excited about the possibility of creating a Wahlburger in Mexico,” said the Dorchester-born performer formerly known as Marky Mark.

The group will compete with corporate players like Alsea, which operates more than 4,200 fast food units and 18 brands including Burger King, Starbucks and P.F. Changs in Mexico, followed by FEMSA-OXXO with 19,997 convenience stores where fast food is sold. CMR operates 11 casual dining brands in Mexico such as Chili’s.

Micro and small businesses represent 96% of the restaurant industry in Mexico.

The Orlando Walhburgers was a victim of the COVID pandemic. The space later was converted to a Mexican restaurant. Photo: Google Street View

The restaurant business was hit hard by the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, but brands are adapting with dark kitchens and online orders.

The food service market in Mexico will register annual growth of 5.3% between 2022 and 2027, according to Mordor Intelligence.

Although several restaurant brands, especially hamburger brands, are already in Mexico, Wahlburgers is looking to its main asset: the Wahlberg family. Mark, the most famous brother, is widely recognized around the world. The star of action movies and family comedies was the highest-paid actor in the world in 2017, taking home US$68 million, according to Forbes.

A reality show, “Wahlburgers,” debuted on the A&E cable network in 2014 and aired for 10 seasons over five years. In January 2021, there were 49 Wahlburgers locations in the United States, two in Canada, and one in Germany, with an entry into New Zealand in the works.

A franchise partner must have a net worth of $US5 million dollars, of which one million must be in liquid assets.

In addition, an initial franchise fee is US$30,000 per unit and royalties of 3% of sales, increasing 1% per year to a cap of 5%.

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