Commentary

'Wahlburgers' Is Only Hamburger Brand With Its Own TV Show

McDonald's doesn't have its own TV show. Neither does Burger King. Shake Shack doesn't have one either.

That leaves Wahlburgers as the only hamburger restaurant chain with its own TV show that you could describe as a program-length commercial for the brand.

This restaurant started as one outlet in Massachusetts. It is owned principally by Paul Wahlberg, who is one of nine siblings from Boston.

At least two of his brothers are partners in the business -- movie star Mark Wahlberg and TV star Donnie Wahlberg (he's in “Blue Bloods” on CBS).

Together, along with their mother and other family members who turn up from time to time, the three brothers are the stars of “Wahlburgers” on A&E. The show begins a new season Wednesday night.

It’s the eighth season since its premiere in January 2014 (according to Wikipedia). Later that same year, Wahlburgers opened a second restaurant, in Toronto. Today, the chain is in the midst of an expansion that reportedly will give it around 30 stores.

Locations include L.A., New York, Detroit, Atlanta and Savannah. A new one opened not too long ago in my Upper East Side neighborhood on a corner on Second Avenue in the 80s where several previous restaurants came and went quickly.

This new location seems reasonably successful so far. Plus, it's near the new Second Avenue subway on a portion of the avenue that has been fixed up considerably. Well played, Wahlbergs.

Also well-played: Maneuvering this show with this restaurant chain's name as its title onto TV. It really is a creative thing to have done -- devising a plan for a company's growth that includes building a reality TV show around the restaurants and their celebrity investors, then growing the business accordingly.

It also helps that the celebrity brothers are part of a close-knit family -- which is often an important piece of the puzzle for reality shows like this one. Many celebrity-family reality shows have come and gone quickly since the first big hit in the genre -- “The Osbournes” on MTV.

The Kardashians have had staying power, of course, but these Wahlbergs have little (if anything) in common with them.

Mark and Donnie are reasonably well-liked, however, and the show has them interacting with their close family members in ways that help endear them to their A&E audience.

The show seems to be saying: See these guys? They're big stars, but they always put family first. I don't know about you, but I think that's very nice.

As for the show itself, it is not a blockbuster. But the family name has evidently been enough to draw viewers in amounts that are sufficient to earn it renewals for season after season.

In the second of the two new half-hour episodes airing on premiere night on Wednesday, a storyline is even critical of the restaurant's French fries.

In a preview clip, Donnie is shown complaining about their inferiority and enlisting the help of an influential food blogger to persuade Paul to change the way he fries his potatoes.

How can you not admire a restaurant chain that is so intent on making improvements? Gotta go now. I'm due at the new Wahlburgers at 85th and Second for lunch.

Season Eight of “Wahlburgers” starts Wednesday (August 9) at 9 p.m. Eastern on A&E.

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