April 2021 As I first reported back in January 2020, Wahlburgers has decided to add its thread to the fabric of Carmel and open its 53rd Wahlburgers in the country—this one located in the Proscenium development. As the staff was finalizing preparations for its soft open at the end of April, we spoke with Wahlburgers’ founder Chef Paul Wahlberg as well as a few members of the local franchise’s management team about what will make Wahlburgers the premiere “foodie” destination in Carmel, Indiana. Just Your Typical Atypical Family Actor, musician, chef, entrepreneur … these titles alone don’t define the Wahlberg brothers: Mark, Donnie and Paul. “Family” does. And the foundation of principles and passion on which the brothers’ outstanding success in the film, food and movie industries was built upon is the very same foundation that the Wahlburgers franchise organization’s success is growing upon. While Mark and Donnie are bona fide celebrities in their own respective careers, Chef Paul Wahlberg has achieved stardom through the creation of Wahlburgers, which has become an international name in its own right. “The passion part started early,” Chef Paul shared. “It’s funny. I’d watch Graham Kerr, the ‘Galloping Gourmet,’ as a kid, and I was always fascinated by the cooking part of it and the enjoyment he got out of it and sharing it with others. Sitting at home with my family, we would always have the big family meal on Sunday. Then we’d think about the leftovers that were going to be generated out of it. Which was great because if we had roast beef, we knew that we were going to have hot roast beef sandwiches—open faced with gravy on it and a little side of mashed potatoes and a piece of bread—and things like that.” While Mark and Donnie were becoming household names across the globe in performance arts, Paul spent his time exploring the culinary arts and maintains a humble disposition and perspective on his rise to fame and success. “My friend’s dad owned a restaurant, and I was washing dishes,” Chef Paul shared. “Then I started doing prep—cutting meat and cleaning vegetables. Then, the sous chef walked by me and said, ‘Hey, you’re pretty good at this. Maybe you should go to culinary school.’ And that was literally my ‘Forrest Gump’ moment where I was like ‘OK’ and then BOOM—everything just opened to me, and I realized that’s what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be. Not Forrest Gump but that I wanted to be a chef. I realized that everything I had been doing previously was leading me to that moment.” Incorporating Traditions Into Wahlburgers Chef Paul emphasized the importance of each and every guest of Wahlburgers feeling like they have come to a place where they’re welcome, like you do when you come home. In loving memory of Alma WahlbergL-R: Mark, Paul, Donnie and their late motherAlma Wahlberg “When you walk into a restaurant, you want to be ‘home,’” Chef Paul said. “You want to be warmly greeted and to be welcomed, and you want people to be excited that you’re there.” In addition to an ambiance that lends itself to an experience similar to if you were a guest at the Wahlberg’s actual family dining room, Wahlburgers offers dishes that are Wahlberg family favorites that come with beloved memories. “There were nine of us, and it takes a lot to feed nine people,” Chef Paul expressed. “My dad used to cook outside in the summertime and cook burgers on the grill. And that would be like our thing. On some of the menus we’ve had my mom’s macaroni salad and my dad’s chili. Obviously, we’re a burger restaurant, so there’s a lot of things that are centric to that. And we’ve had lots of dishes that have been very reminiscent of where we came from.” A Simple Way of Looking at Things Chef Paul’s philosophy is if it needs to be done, get it done. And he isn’t above anything that his guest, staff and franchisees need him to do to help them have the best experiences possible. “I have a very simple way of looking at things,” Chef Paul stated. “We’re all in this together, and each person has to be pulling in the same direction in order to achieve one goal, and that’s happy customers. They don’t come to us for a bad experience. They come to us for a good experience and a good time. It’s not a requirement for them to come in. We have to earn their trip every single time.” The Wahlburgers Carmel Experience Wahlburgers guarantees a fun, casual, music-filled atmosphere where guests, like family, share great food, a few laughs and lots of love. While the interior decor is filled with photos and memories celebrating the Wahlberg brothers’ life journeys from Dorchester neighborhood kids to rising chef and international superstars, Wahlburgers makes food the real star. Guests will enjoy delicious fresh ground beef burgers, signature sandwiches, crispy fries, onion rings, tater tots, salads, specialty frappes, beer and cocktails—all served with heartfelt hospitality. In addition to enjoying a welcoming ambiance where everyone’s like family, the location’s interior build-out is unique compared to any other Wahlburgers location. And the Carmel location offers an abundance of outdoor seating as well with even more amazing views that add to an enjoyable experience. In addition to all of that, Wahlburgers Carmel’s staff is comprised of some of the industry’s most talented and exceptional individuals. Jim Oboyski, vice president of operations, said, “Being part of this group has been a joy for me. The team that I work with—from the leadership team to the general managers to the boots on the ground—has been nothing short of a blessing to me.” Seth Stevenson, regional director, spoke about the overall design: “As far as the itself, this is the first design that we've done like this, and we wanted to make it like you're at your neighbor’s house. It’s warm, and it's inviting. We've got more booths than we've ever had, and the design that the team and Jim came up with will elevate the entire experience for the team and our guests.” Wahlburgers Carmel General Manager Andrew Pedersen—an Indiana native—is genuinely excited for what is to come for his team, his guests and for himself. “I’ve been a general manager for a little over 10 years in the Indianapolis, Southern California, and Chicago markets,” Pedersen shared. “It was a no-brainer for me to take this opportunity, and even in the short amount of time that I’ve interacted with my leadership, it’s been nothing but joy. And I can’t wait to extend that positivity to the community of Carmel as well as the family dynamic that we bring.” The Wahlbergs Are Excited for Their Brand to Join the Carmel Community The Wahlbergs and the Wahlburgers management team are eager to become part of the Carmel community and are excited to open their doors to thousands of new friends who will leave as part of the Wahlburgers family. “We want to be part of the fabric of the community,” Chef Paul said. “We want to be supportive of what’s going on around. We grew up in very humble beginnings, and people helped us, so we owe that, and I will owe that for the rest of my life. At the end of the day, we’re invited guests, so we better show respect to the community that we’re in.” Chef Paul’s brother, Mark, offered a brief statement: "We have fallen in love with Indiana and its people as they have been so welcoming to our family. We are truly looking forward to bringing our first location to the state as we open our doors in Carmel.” Be sure to follow Wahlburgers Carmel on Facebook and visit wahlburgers.com for more information.