Rick Vanzura, CEO of Wahlburgers, says the burger business has reached lease terms for locations in Lynnfield and the Fenway.
When actors Mark and Donnie Wahlberg and chef Paul Wahlberg hired Rick Vanzura two years ago, the brothers wanted someone who could expand their new restaurant business beyond its Hingham location.
After scouting more than 40 locations in the Boston area, Vanzura finally has some tangible progress to report. Vanzura, CEO of the Wahlburgers operation, tells me that a lease was signed for a 4,500-square-foot location at the MarketStreet lifestyle center in Lynnfield within the last two weeks. Wahlburgers has also reached terms for a lease for a 4,200-square-foot space in a Samuels & Associates development in Boston’s Fenway section, and a lease signing is probably about two weeks away, Vanzura says.
Then there’s the expansion under way outside of Greater Boston. Wahlburgers just signed a franchise agreement this week to develop five restaurants in the Philadelphia metro area, including the Atlantic City region. And Vanzura says a different business partner will open one in Toronto this summer, making it the first Wahlburgers to open after the original store.
Finding the right location in Greater Boston took longer than Vanzura expected. He says it wasn’t easy finding the right mix of ingredients: a similar size to the Hingham burger joint with high ceilings, with a liquor license, in a high-traffic location.
Vanzura says he expects the Fenway restaurant will open around the end of the year, and the Lynnfield location will open in 2015, by next summer.
All of the Boston-area stores will technically be owned via franchise agreements, he says, although they’ll share ownership with the original Wahlburgers restaurant and be managed as corporate stores. “We have a longer-term plan to open several more in the Boston area,” he says. “We’re looking right now, but nothing is imminent.”