Considering an investment in the Wahlburgers? The celebrity-backed burger joint founded by Wahlberg brothers Mark, Donnie, and Paul has been around since 2011 with restaurants located in the United States and internationally. A few can even be found operating inside supermarkets.
How much does it cost to open Wahlburgers? To franchise this burger chain, you need a liquid capital requirement of $10,000 and a net worth of at least $5,000,000. The initial investment range is $1,680,000 to $2,885,000 and the franchise fee is $40,000.
But is Wahlburgers worth investing in right now? After all, there have been reports of locations closing in Cincinnati, Milwaukee, and Michigan. This is not exactly the sign of a thriving business. Read on to learn more about Wahlburgers and whether or not they’re the right franchise to get into. You can also take this 7-minute franchise quiz to get match with a business that matches your interests and investment level.
Financial Requirements and Fees
The following basic financial requirements to open a Wahlburgers are listed below:
|Fees / Expenses
||$1,680,000 to $2,885,000
In addition to the expenses listed above, Wahlburgers also requires a royalty fee of 6% of the gross sales for a location. There may be exceptions to these which you can bring up and discuss with their franchise development team upon your first meeting with them. Negotiate a lower rate if you can. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
Average Sales / Revenue per Year
There is no official report on the recent revenue for Wahlburger but according to some online reports, the chain has seen $105 million in total annual sales. It’s unclear if this revenue includes international locations as well as their items selling at supermarkets. On the other hand, according to Kona Equity, the Wahlburgers in Toronto has seen $3.943 million in revenue in a single year.
Wahlburgers Franchise Facts
||86 restaurants (USA)
||Fast Casual Restaurant
||Food and Beverage
Wahlburgers opened in 2011 under the ownership of the Wahlberg brothers Mark, Donnie, and Paul. Out of the three founders, Paul was the only brother not involved in the entertainment industry. Mark is a well-known actor having starred in films such as Transformers: The Last Knight, Italian Job, and Uncharted. Donnie was a member of the 1990s boy band New Kids On The Block. Paul, on the other hand, is a chef with experience cooking for restaurants in Boston particularly Bridgeman’s where he was an executive chef.
The first Wahlburgers was located in Hingham, Massachusetts and was featured in a reality television series in 2014. The show was a hit and it ran for several seasons. This also prompted them to open up their second location in Toronto and thus began the continued success of Wahlburgers opening up more even more locations across several states.
Wahlburgers has fried pickles.
The menu at Wahlburgers consists of burgers, sandwiches, starters, sides, and salads. You can also customize burgers by adding toppings which include bacon, onion rings, avocado spread, and several kinds of cheeses such as Swiss, smoked cheddar, pepper jack, clue cheese, and white cheddar. Unique options include opting for a no bun if you’re going for a low carb diet. The chain also offers gluten-free buns. You’ll also find kids meals, shakes, floats, beers, and wine included on the menu.
Wahlburgers is partnered with Hy-Vee grocery stores which means you can most definitely find a Wahlburger inside of some locations. They also sell packaged Wahlburger beef products like a short rib, proprietary brisket, and four kinds of their chuck meat blend: brick pack, ground beef, pre-formed patties, and pre-formed sliders.
To franchise Wahlburgers, complete this initial interest form here and a franchise representative will get back to you. The qualifications that Wahlburgers are looking for in their applicants according to their website are the following:
- Passion for the restaurant business – be involved
- Have great restaurant general manager(s) and run great operations
- Belief in the Wahlburgers system and the ability to follow that system
- Have great “people” skills – outgoing and welcoming attitude toward customers and the community
- Understand the importance of local store marketing and community involvement
- Understand the importance of great store locations
- Have the appropriate capitalization to develop a number of locations
- Have access to quality real estate
Wahlburgers is currently run by the Wahlberg brothers with Chef Paul at the helm. There is also an experienced management team in place to help run the day-to-day of the business.
How Much Does Wahlburgers Make in Profit?
No official report has been made as to how much Wahlburgers make in profit. But a report from the Franchise Theory analyzed that the restaurant makes $876,000 of gross sales annually on average. The franchise also has a minimum 10% profit margin. Based on these estimates franchise owners could expect to make an annual profit of $87,000 for one unit.
Advantages of a Wahlburgers Franchise
Franchising Wahlburgers can bring about several advantages that you can look forward to. Here are a few of them worth noting.
A franchise that’s available outside of the United States can bring more attention, customers, and revenue due to greater awareness for the concept. Wahlburgers has opened up shop in several countries such as in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. There were even plans to open in Asian countries like China and Thailand back in 2017 but those plans appear to have fallen through. Nevertheless, there’s still hope that the Wahlberg brothers will decide to expand in Asia and in other countries as well to expand their reach.
Wahlburgers has distinct dipping sauce options.
Owned by Celebs
A business that’s owned by celebs is a good marketing strategy. And with Mark and Donnie Wahlberg’s standing and fan base, Wahlburgers would definitely have customers that would come in to support and check out the place. Wahlburgers being owned by a Wahlberg helps push the brand across social media, online newspapers, television and radio.
Quick Growth and Expansions
Wahlburgers is quick to grow and expand. They’ve released a line of merchandise such as Wahlgear that includes hoodies and caps with the Wahlburgers logo. They’ve partnered with Hy-Vee grocery stores to expand their presence. They have packaged goods available in supermarkets.
They also have a Wahlburgers Wild inside a Bass Pro Shops Pyramid in Memphis, Tennessee offering exclusive menu items like the Bison Burger and Venison Chili. These show that Wahlburgers are quick to think of promotions to spread the brand and garner in more customers.
Challenges of a Wahlburgers Franchise
Even though Wahlburgers may seem like they have a strong footing in the food scene, the brand is facing some serious headwinds. Here are a few of the challenges you need to know.
There have been several reports of Wahlburgers locations closing across the United States. From three stores in Michigan, only one remains. A location in Cincinnati closed down after 5 years and another one in Milwaukee’s Third Ward is closing only after 3 years in operation.
Several reasons have been cited as to why they’re closing down such as staffing challenges. If this is the case, Wahlburgers should build a plan to help franchisees in hire more staff to manage their stores. You’ve also got to wonder if sales were lagging at locations in these cities.
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Wahlburgers has faced several lawsuits through the years. One lawsuit was filed back in 2016 by their Coney Island location where claims were made that tips were being held from employees. In other words, the unit was being accused of wage theft by employees.
Another legal problem arose in 2017 when Wahlburgers’ business partners Billy Leonard and Edward St. Croix claim that they were not informed of business plans. Lawsuits can be damaging to a companies reputation even if a business is found to be innocent due to the negative publicity.
There are many fast casual burger options in the United States: Shake Shack, Five Guys, and In-N-Out just to name a few. There are also global fast-food brands like McDonald’s and Burger King competing for diner’s wallets. Wahlburgers faces tough competition in the burger scene that’s seen many new competitors enter the fray since they first opened their doors more than a decade ago.
Is the Wahlburgers Franchise Right For You?
Wahlburgers seem like an ideal franchise but the one thing that can stop franchise applicants in their tracks is the net worth requirement of $5,000,000. That’s a much higher barrier to entry than other burger concepts that will often require between $1 – $2 million in net worth. There’s also the many competing burger chains out there and the recent news of some locations going out of business permanently. You’ll have to study the location and marketing strategy of Wahlburgers to see if you buy into the concept long term.
What is an alternative Wahlburgers to franchise?
If it’s a celebrity-backed restaurant you’d like to franchise, you might want to check out Big Chicken. It’s a chain of chicken burgers owned by NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal. It’s currently on the rise and has already reached 150 locations.
To franchise Big Chicken, you’ll need to invest $673,000 to $1,642,000 on average. The franchise fee is $40,000.
Wahlburgers have been around for quite some time and from the outside it looks like there are plans in place to continue growing the brand. I hope this guide was able to help outline the pros and cons of the Wahlburgers business and shed light on other opportunities to consider.