Chef Paul Wahlberg wasn’t blessed with the singing voices of his younger brothers, Mark and Donnie Wahlberg.
“If I sing, it sounds like a bag of cats. I’s not pretty,” he said.
Nor was Wahlberg given the natural feel for being on camera like his actor brothers, despite being on a reality show for 10 seasons with his family.
“I don’t think I’ll ever be as comfortable as they are,” Wahlberg said. “I was off cooking when they were doing their thing. I’m so proud of them. They’re so talented.”
Wahlberg and his brothers started Wahlburgers, with the first one opening in Massachusetts in 2011. The three brothers grew up in Boston with six other siblings. The reality show, “Wahlburgers,” ran on A&E from 2014 to 2019.
The Carmel Wahlburgers, 1200 S. Range Line Rd., which is a franchise, became the company’s first in Indiana and 50th nationally. There also are Wahlburgers in Germany and Canada.
“With the redevelopment and the whole area, they absolutely fell in love with (the Carmel site),” Wahlberg said of the Michigan-based franchise group. “Carmel has been fantastic.”
When the Carmel restaurant opened April 26, Wahlberg promised in a virtual appearance that he would visit in person as soon as COVID-19 pandemic restrictions eased. He met June 22 with Carmel guests at the restaurant.
“The (famous) name is going to bring them the first time, and that’s the only time they are going to bring them in,” Wahlberg said. “You have to earn it. For us, it’s important to earn that repeat visit every single time. Our job is to make the customer happy, that’s it. We want people to have great food and great drinks. That’s what this business is all about.”
Wahlberg, 57, started cooking when he was in high school and has been in the restaurant business ever since.
“I couldn’t imagine doing anything else with my life,” he said. “I’m in the kitchen all the time, that’s my happy place, being able to go in the kitchen and work on menu items and different things, then being able to go out and say hello to the guests,” he said.
Wahlberg first opened Alma Nove, which is in Hingham, Mass. Alma was his late mother’s name, and Nove is Italian for nine, the number of children she had.
Wahlberg said the idea for Wahlburgers came from conversations with his brothers and investors.
“I love burgers. I eat a ton of burgers,” he said. “It evolved after we opened Alma Nove.”
The Wahlburgers in Carmel has a full bar.
“We want to offer people a great dining experience,” Wahlberg said. “We have vegetarian and fish choices. We’re trying to give people different options. We also want it to be a place you go with friends and family.”
Wahlberg said the best aspect of Wahlburgers and the reality show has been spending more time with his family.
“This also has been a great vehicle for me to make people happy,” Wahlberg said. “We can give back to certain places and be supportive of the people around us. We want to be a place people think of as part of the community. People were supportive of us. We grew up with humble beginnings. We can’t forget where we came from.”