A soft opening that wasn’t for a Wahlburgers
So much for the “soft” opening.
The second Wahlburgers restaurant was supposed to open quietly, in Toronto’s SoHo Metropolitan hotel, on Oct. 30 with little fanfare, giving the staff time to work out kinks before the inevitable crush. The grand opening — you know, the one where actor Donnie Wahlberg shows up with wife Jenny McCarthy — was scheduled for two weeks later.
Wahlburgers got its start in Hingham, of course, with actors Donnie and Mark Wahlberg helping to put chef brother Paul Wahlberg into the spotlight. The company signed an agreement to expand into Toronto with a group that includes hotelier Henry Wu and Michael Wekerle, star of “Dragons’ Den,” the Canadian version of “Shark Tank.”
Then Donnie spilled the beans on — where else? — Twitter. “If you’re in Toronto 2day- this place is unofficially open,” Donnie wrote to his 651,000 followers on the day of the soft opening, posting two photos of the restaurant. “Go 4 a sneak peak.” Sure enough, the crowds started pouring in a couple weeks before the “official opening.”
Surprised by Donnie’s impromptu marketing, Wahlburgers chief executive Rick Vanzura said the unexpected rush worked out for the best: The restaurant crew was subjected to a pressure test that helped them prepare for the grand opening. “The volumes right now, they’re about 50 percent higher than we originally thought,” Vanzura said. “[Donnie’s tweet] gave them the ability to deal with that kind of volume, before the grand opening.”