Greektown takes star turn with Wahlberg

While not officially open yet, the Greektown Wahlburgers got a visit from Mark and Paul Wahlberg Wednesday with A&E cameras rolling

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

Hundreds of fans lining Monroe in Greektown screamed and waved as actor Mark Wahlberg emerged from a car in front of his Wahlburgers restaurant Wednesday evening.

As cameras rolled for the reality show “Wahlburgers” on A&E, Wahlburg posed for photos with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan; his brother Paul Wahlberg, who is also the restaurant chain’s chef; and Nino Cutraro, the restaurant’s Detroit-based partner.

“A lot of hard work goes into the preparation of getting us to this point,” Mark Wahlberg said. “This is the one day of excitement and glamour, but every day after that is for the customers.”

In spite of the red carpet hoopla with VIP guests, television cameras and a media pen, the Greektown Wahlburgers is not yet officially open, and no opening date has been announced.

Wahlberg is in Detroit filming “Transformers 5,” and while filming ran long Wednesday, he was less than an hour late for his scheduled 7 p.m. red carpet appearance.

“I get out of work when Michael Bay says I get out of work,” he joked.

“Detroit reminds me very much of Boston, it’s a great sports town,” he added, saying he’d move to Detroit if his wife wanted to. “We’re pushing to get more incentives here so we can make more films. We’re going to open up more restaurants, so I’ll be here quite often.”

Fans lined Monroe, hoping to catch a glimpse of the actor.

“We’re big fans,” said Angela Miller, who came to Greektown at 9 a.m. from Brighton with her friend Heather Ferrell of Belleville. “We’ve been following Mark and Donnie for a long time, and we got to meet Paul earlier today. We thought it was opening today so we came down.”

Emily Jilg, 27, of Novi cut her family vacation short by one to be in Detroit on Wednesday. She flew out of Orlando at 4 a.m., arriving on Monroe with her friend Linda Wilson, also of Novi, around 1 p.m.

“I would like to meet him and get a selfie,” she said. “I’ve been a fan for years and years and years.”

In December, Wahlberg announced in an interview with FOX 2’s Lee Thomas his plans to open a Wahlburgers in Greektown this summer in a Bedrock building. Later, it was revealed to be 569 Monroe, a 4,200-square-foot space next to the Red Smoke Barbeque restaurant.

In June, Wahlberg released a video statement saying the opening date would be “in four weeks,” estimating a late July opening.

Wahlburgers is owned by Mark, Paul and brother Donnie, who plays Detective Daniel Reagan on CBS’ “Blue Bloods” and is a member of boy band New Kids on the Block. Local partner Cutraro also owns Bella Piatti in Birmingham.

According to its website, Wahlburgers has locations in Toronto, New York and the brothers’ native state, Massachusetts. The Greektown restaurant will be first of six Wahlburgers planned for southeast Michigan. These locations are part of a nationwide expansion for the brand, which struck deals with various franchise groups to expand to a total of 118 restaurants.

Wahlburgers Detroit will serve lunch and dinner. The menu includes a full bar with a focus on burgers, sandwiches, sides, salads and gourmet sodas.

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Twitter: @melodybaetens