Nathan’s Famous may be a time-tested staple in Coney Island, but this summer, there’s going to be a new kid on the block when it comes to boardwalk fare. Wahlburgers, the famed burger joint owned by celebrity Wahlberg brothers Mark and Donnie and their Executive Chef brother Paul, will be opening a Coney Island location at 3015 Stillwell Avenue with business partner John Cestare of Big Apple Burgers in July. The ribbon-cutting ceremony and red carpet event last night brought a bit of Hollywood to the historic neighborhood, which seems fittingly poised for its own “star moment.”
In the past year, Coney Island has seen a tremendous resurgence after many local businesses were severely affected by Superstorm Sandy in October 2012. New York City’s Coney Island Revitalization Plan has helped spark the area’s resurgence, including the opening of several sit-down restaurants such as Applebee’s Grill & Bar, Tom’s Coney Island, Grimaldi’s, and now Wahlburgers.
Celebrities and notables celebrated the upcoming opening of Wahlburgers’ 6,800-square-foot restaurant and bar as A&E taped an episode of the restaurant’s eponymous reality show “Wahlburgers.” In addition to Donnie Wahlberg, Mark Wahlberg and wife Rhea Durham, Cestare, and Coney Island City Councilman Mark Treyger, Donnie’s “Blue Bloods” castmates Abigail Hawk (“Detective Baker”) and Len Cariou (“Grandpa”) were among those in attendance.
“For our first store in New York, Coney Island is perfect,” said Mark Wahlberg. “It’s all about bringing together friends, family, and sharing good times, just like our brand. We’re looking forward to partnering with a great team in New York and creating amazing memories at Wahlburgers.”
The eatery promises the same Wahlburgers experience as the restaurant’s original Hingham, Mass. location, which touts “hospitality from the heart” with a menu that includes BBQ Bacon Burger (Donnie’s favorite), Tater Tots (“just like you remember them”), a cupcake of the day, housemade salads, even Grilled Banana Fluffanutta (yes, with peanut butter and nutella!). Wahlburgers Coney Island boasts a main level dining room that overlooks Coney Island’s famous boardwalk and beach, a walk-up window, an indoor-outdoor bar, and — not to be missed – a stunning rooftop patio, topped with a retractable glass roof for dining that can seat up to 300 diners.
“Growing up in New York, Coney Island was a summertime family tradition,” said Cestare. “The Wahlberg family also shares that tradition, which is why we wanted our first New York outpost to be here. It is truly the perfect partnership for us, blending similar values and family-work culture with that of the Wahlberg family and brand.”
Wahlburgers Coney Island is the family’s first franchised store to open in the U.S., and it will be followed by six additional locations in New York City, headed by New York-based Big Apple Burgers.
Photo credit: Javonne Parker