Family biz: Wahlberg family franchise grows in this season of 'Wahlburgers'

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Jacqueline Spendlove / TV Media
Donnie and Paul Wahlberg as seen in "Wahlburgers"

Donnie and Paul Wahlberg as seen in "Wahlburgers"

I've heard it said that 90 percent of restaurants fail in their first year. Fortunately for the fledgling restaurateurs of the world, the briefest of Google searches proclaims this to be false (thanks, Forbes). Still, there's no denying that it's a highly competitive industry, and if your city is anything like mine, you've surely noticed that an awful lot of restaurants fail to make a go of it.

Success often depends on a skilled chef, an interesting menu and excellent service, among a slew of other qualities -- but a couple of A-list brothers and co-owners certainly don't hurt either.

Paul Wahlberg can attest to this. The older brother of "Blue Bloods" star and former New Kid on the Block Donnie Wahlberg, as well as blockbuster star and former Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch frontman Mark Wahlberg ("The Fighter," 2010), is a talented chef in his own right, but having his famous brothers' names attached to his restaurant has only added to the chain's success. "Wahlburgers" follows the goings on of the famous family as they build their restaurant empire, from Wahlberg family members to friends and acquaintances of the brothers. Catch a new episode of the reality TV series when it airs Wednesday, Aug. 30, on A&E.

The first Wahlburgers opened in 2011, in Hingham, Massachusetts, with chef Paul at the helm. He had already found success with Alma Nove, a nearby restaurant named for his mother Alma, matriarch of the Wahlberg brood ("nove," Italian for "nine," refers to her nine children), but his dream had always been to open a casual, fast food restaurant.

"The best times in summer were my dad cooking burgers and homemade french fries on the grill," he recalled in an interview with the Globe and Mail. "Cooking was a major undertaking in our house."

Paul has evidently inherited his dad's mastery of cooking for the masses. Wahlburgers restaurants have since popped up in Orlando, Las Vegas, New York City, Myrtle Beach -- the franchise has even crossed over into Canada (hello, side of poutine). The current plan is to roll out an astounding 300-store expansion, including seven in the NYC area alone, with locations as far away as Dubai. Clearly, business at Wahlburgers is booming.

That's all well and good for the well-fed clientele, but fans of the series are generally more interested in what's going on with Mark, Donnie and their retinues. There's no shortage of good-natured sibling rivalry as the brothers compete for Alma's affection and introduce aggravating schemes, ostensibly to drum up business. Really, it's a lot of Mark and Donnie coming into the restaurant and driving Paul nuts while the poor guy's just trying to cook his burgers, whether they're strapping him unwillingly into a virtual reality getup or launching a campaign for whom mom loves best, complete with a ballot box on the counter of the restaurant.

Alma Wahlberg stars in "Wahlburgers"

Alma Wahlberg stars in "Wahlburgers"

While the hijinks make for good TV fodder, Paul doesn't let his brothers distract him from keeping the business going. "The most important thing to me is the next burger that goes out of the kitchen," he said in an interview with Boston Magazine. "I just want to serve people food and make them happy."

Outside of the restaurant, viewers can look forward to the usual parade of famous friends and acquaintances this season. A recent episode saw Donnie sought out by fellow former boybander Joey Fatone ("My Big Fat Greek Wedding," 2002) of 'N Sync fame, who's looking for advice on his own restaurant, a new hotdog joint called Fat One's.

Donnie recruits tourmates Boyz II Men as guinea pigs for his wife Jenny McCarthy's ("The View") new vodka line, and Mark and his kids go up against NFLer Travis Kelce in a game of touch football. Keep an eye out for famed magicians Penn & Teller when they provide the entertainment for Mark's VIP party at the Las Vegas Wahlburgers.

As for Alma, she's just as involved with her boys as ever. This season, she takes a crack at learning golf, with the help of longtime family friend Johnny Drama, in order to spend more time with Mark, an avid golfer. We also recently saw her get a taste of the red carpet as Mark's date to the Boston premiere of "Patriot's Day." Later in the season, Mark, Donnie and Paul work together to throw their mom an unforgettable surprise birthday party.

Ribbing and rivalries and squabbling aside, the show always maintains a strong focus on the importance of family. It's a family business after all -- it's the huge household he grew up in and the meals they shared together that gave Paul his drive to cook in the first place.

He's certainly come a long way from washing dishes at a friend's family restaurant in high school. Wahlburgers is a huge success, and that success is growing still. Catch all the behind-the-scenes laughs as the eighth season of "Wahlburgers" continues with a new episode airing Wednesday, Aug. 30, on A&E.