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Wahlburgers to open its first military base location, but it’ll be a while

Wahlburgers (Michael Rivera/Wikimedia Commons)

Troops tired of Anthony’s pizza, Charleys’ subs and Auntie Anne’s pretzels will have a new food option named after someone they may actually recognize when Wahlburgers opens on Washington’s Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

It will be the first military installation to host the fast-casual burger joint founded by chef Paul Wahlberg and his brothers Mark and Donnie Wahlberg, the Army and Air Force Exchange Service said Tuesday, announcing an agreement with the restaurant chain. The location at the JBLM Lewis Exchange food court is slated to open in spring of 2020, following renovations slated for this fall.

A partnership between AAFES and Wahlburgers is expected to be announced during the season finale of the A&E reality show about the celebrity brothers’ burger chain on Wednesday. The show “Wahlburgers” will air back-to-back episodes beginning at 9 p.m. Central time.

“The Wahlberg family is incredibly proud of this partnership,” Mark Wahlberg said. “We look forward to bringing the Wahlburgers experience to military families at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.”

The Massachusetts natives, from a family of nine kids, opened their first Wahlburgers in 2011 in Hingham, Mass., south of Boston. They’ve expanded to more than two dozen locations across North America since, including a Boston-based food truck. The A&E series this season followed the brothers’ plans to double the company’s size in a year.

The new partnership is part of AAFES commitment to serving “the best customers in the world—soldiers, airmen and their families,” said Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Luis Reyes, the Exchange’s senior enlisted adviser.

“The Exchange delivers brands that resonate with the military community.”

Donnie and Mark Wahlberg rose to stardom in the 1990s as pop music stars — Donnie Wahlberg was a member of New Kids on the Block and his brother, known by the moniker Marky Mark, headed up the hip-hop group the Funky Bunch. Both are perhaps better known for their film roles now, which include a number of military and police roles.

Donnie Wahlberg played 2nd Lt. C. Carwood Lipton in the HBO miniseries “Band of Brothers,” which traced the exploits of the 101st Airborne Division’s “Easy” Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment during World War II. He plays New York cop Danny Reagan in the CBS series “Blue Bloods.”

His younger brother Mark portrayed real-life Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell in 2013’s “Lone Survivor,” based on Luttrell’s book about the deadly Operation Red Wings in Afghanistan’s in Pech district in 2005. He’s racked up several other military and police roles, including the fictional retired Marine scout sniper Bob Lee Swagger in “Shooter” (2007), Sgt. 1st Class Troy Barlow in “Three Kings” (1999) and Pvt. Tommy Lee Haywood, his first big screen role, in “Renaissance Man” (1993).

His latest thriller, “Mile 22,” in which he plays a CIA operative, is slated to be screened for troops in Afghanistan Aug. 11 to 15, ahead of its release in U.S. theaters Aug. 17. It screened for free at 12 AAFES Reel Time theaters in the U.S. last week, as part of a partnership with the film studio.

Wahlburgers restaurants are filled with photos and memorabilia marking the brothers’ rise from kids living in Boston’s southern Dorchester neighborhood to worldwide celebrities, according to a statement.

The menu includes ground beef burgers, beef hot dogs, crispy fries, onion rings, tater tots, salads, frappes, beers and cocktails. Options also include chicken, fish and a plant-based sandwich known as “The Impossible Burger,” according to the company website.


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