Wahlburgers is headed to the expanding South Bay Center in Dorchester
The Wahlburgers chain has expanded well beyond its Massachusetts home base, to more than 10 states and Canada. But now the three Wahlberg brothers who oversee the business — Mark, Donnie, and Paul — are finally bringing it home.
They plan to take over the lease for a space in the expanded South Bay Center in April to start renovations on their long-awaited restaurant in Dorchester, the neighborhood where they grew up.
Rick Vanzura, chief executive of the Hingham-based group, says the place probably won’t open until the fall. In the meantime, the brothers hope to park a newly retrofitted food truck at the space after the weather warms up. Mark, in particular, has a number of promotional ideas for the truck.
Meanwhile, A&E has decided to pick up the “Wahlburgers” reality TV show, which depicts the brothers’ efforts to expand the business while maintaining some semblance of sanity within the family, for a ninth season. The interpersonal dynamics have been the focus in past seasons, but Vanzura says the next one will put more emphasis on business strategies, in part because the company has grown to more than 20 locations.
The brothers own only the restaurants in Massachusetts, including the original spot, which opened at the Hingham Shipyard in 2011. They franchise the rights to other investors for out-of-state locations. Vanzura says the group hopes to open 15 this year, including the one in Dorchester.
Vanzura says the company used to plan grand opening parties around the brothers’ schedules, including Mark’s movie work and Donnie’s touring with New Kids on the Block. But now the company is more strategic and will hold off on some parties for as long as a year, in part because the buzz can overwhelm some of the restaurants soon after they open.
All three brothers haven’t been able to attend most of these events, now known as VIP parties instead of grand openings. But Vanzura suspects all three will be there for the Dorchester celebration when it happens.
“I’m confident for the Dorchester party we’ll move heaven and earth to make sure all three are there,” Vanzura says. “I’m sure that will be a mother of a party.”
Boston Beer’s new CEO
It was one of most publicly drawn-out CEO searches in Boston, taking more than a year. But Boston Beer chairman Jim Koch says it was well worth the wait.
Koch just hired Peet’s Coffee CEO Dave Burwick to replace Martin Roper as chief executive and president of the nearly 1,500-person company. Koch says he took a deliberative approach to finding his next top lieutenant at the Boston-based brewer.
“Martin was kind enough to say, ‘I’m going to stay until you find the right person and don’t feel like you have to just take somebody because there’s a ticking clock,’ ” Koch says.
Koch didn’t have to go beyond the boardroom. Burwick has been a member of Boston Beer’s board for 13 years.
Burwick has prioritized quality and freshness while running California’s Peet’s, Koch says. Plus, fellow Boston Beer board members Jean-Michel Valette and David Fialkow have worked with Burwick in his Peet’s role, and vouched for his management skills.
Corporate culture also played a role.
“Boston Beer has a very strong and unique culture,” Koch says. For many candidates he interviewed, Koch says, “particularly ones that had lots of large company [experience] . . . I was never really comfortable about the cultural fit.”
Then, of course, there’s sports-team loyalty. Burwick is originally from Worcester (and will move back to Massachusetts). So it’s no surprise he’s a big fan of the Red Sox, Patriots, Bruins, and Celtics.
“He checked that box,” Koch joked. “It was a stumbling block for other people.”
New firm, familiar names
A new lobbying firm just opened in Boston, but its principals will be familiar to many of the movers and shakers on Beacon Hill and Capitol Hill.
ADS Ventures and Beacon Strategies Group recently merged to form Tremont Strategies Group. The partners include former congressman Chet Atkins, who previously owned ADS, and Liesl Sheehan, former president of ADS, as well as former Beacon cofounders Mike Morris and Mike Bergan.
One main goal: to combine ADS’s expertise on the federal side with Beacon’s state government experience. “There’s a whole new sense of energy [from] the ability to offer our clients a full suite of government relations,” Sheehan says.
Big clients include Polartec, Uber, Tesla, and the Beth Israel Deaconess Care Organization. The new firm has eight full-time employees along with several strategic advisers that help out with specific industries.
Tremont Strategies has offices in Boston’s Post Office Square and on C Street in D.C.
But Sheehan might consider her third office to be up in the air.
“I live in Boston,” Sheehan says. “[But] I spend a good amount of time on the . . . shuttle, back and forth to D.C.”