Hollywood heavyweight Mark Wahlberg’s new restaurant in Queenstown has opened and is set to boost the city’s international profile.
Wahlburgers is believed to be the fastest-growing burger chain in North America, with the 60-seat Queenstown store the franchise’s 112th to open globally. The company has also signalled ambitious expansion plans with new kiosk store formats and a site in every major city throughout New Zealand.
The actor and entrepreneur founded Wahlburgers in 2011 with his brothers New Kids on The Block star Donnie and chef behind the menu Paul Wahlberg. The Queenstown launch will be promoted to over 50 million followers on the star’s social media platforms – and is set to provide a significant boost to the country’s international visibility.
The opening of the restaurant will also benefit South Island food producers with growers from Otago and Canterbury selected to provide tonnes of fresh produce to the chain. Wahlburgers co-founder Mark Wahlberg says visiting Queenstown has always been on his wish list.
He says they will also introduce a breakfast menu, including a breakfast burger and bacon & egg roll, at their newest branch in the coming weeks.
“The universal feedback I have heard from friends that have visited New Zealand is that Queenstown is a must-see destination.
“The opening of our store in the adventure capital of the world is something we are immensely proud of, and I am looking forward to seeing it in person.
“Kiwi customers can expect a dining experience which is all about food, family and fun where we share my family’s delicious recipes brought to life by my brother Chef Paul,” he says.
“Upper Village” Queenstown is the second branch to open operated by the Mustaca family, founders of United Cinemas, Australia’s largest independent cinema chain.
The company’s CEO Sam Mustaca says he plans to open a further five stores, employ over 150 local staff and generate millions of dollars in revenue as the business expands throughout the country over the next four years.
He says the company is planning to introduce a series of smaller store formats in New Zealand.
“The new kiosks occupy less real estate space and have a more streamlined menu of our top-selling items. This allows us to have a presence in smaller retail sites with a reduced footprint.
“The first of these will be opened in our cinema at the Bayfair Shopping Centre in Tauranga in the coming months where wahlburgers will be served to your grand reclining seat while you watch the latest Hollywood blockbusters.
“As we approach our first peak summer trading period, we are confident of achieving solid and consistent revenues across Queenstown and our flagship Princess Wharf Auckland site. We want to open a critical mass of stores in New Zealand to achieve the required economies of scale and plan to open in all major cities across the country,” he says.
Mustaca says the opening in New Zealand’s adventure capital is aligned with their site in downtown Auckland.
“The appeal of the Upper Village location was the ability to attract high volumes of overseas visitors – including Americans who have an attachment to the brand.
“We see this across our other trading stores where we get many Americans wanting to visit our Australian stores as well as visitors from other countries.
“We are also in close proximity to Queenstown’s gondola in the Upper Village entertainment precinct which has recently had a capacity upgrade which could see up to 1,100 visitors per hour passing through.
“The connection with this facility is great from a foot traffic perspective but also enables the ability to cross-promote our offerings to both tourists and locals.
“Quality hospitality venues are an essential part of the infrastructure needed to provide a positive experience for visitors and we are looking forward to supporting the region’s tourism in this way.
“The venue, food and beverage offering and atmosphere has also been designed to appeal to the needs of Queenstown locals,” he says.