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Look no further for a new burger joint, Orlandoans, because Wahlburgers has finally opened its downtown location.

“I’ve been to two other Wahlburger openings and this was by far the biggest and most entertaining,” Boston local Brian Babineau said.

The Boston-based restaurant opened its Orlando location Feb. 16 and held a VIP grand opening celebration on Thursday. Wahlburgers held an invitation-only event in the restaurant and shut down part of Church Street for a public street party with live music from 7 p.m. until midnight.

Wahlburgers’ Chef Paul Wahlberg and actor Mark Wahlberg attended the event and shared some love with excited locals.  The third brother, Donnie Wahlberg, was unable to attend.

“I want to give a toast to Orlando,” said Mark Wahlberg in between throwing Wahlburgers shirts into the crowd and posing for photos.

Hundreds of people filled the block to celebrate, get photos with the Wahlbergs and eat samples from the Wahlburgers menu. Lines of eager fans trying to get pictures and autographs as the Wahlberg brothers walked about wrapped around the building.

“It’s these [restaurants like Wahlburgers] that are in the neck of our culture, and downtown is definitely growing,” Wahlburgers employee Raymond Davis said.

Locals enjoyed free cups of tater tots and onion strings, dessert samples and champagne while braving the crowd in hopes of meeting Mark and Paul Wahlberg.

“I’m so excited to try Wahlburgers,” UCF elementary education major Lora Scudlo said. “Orlando is filled with great dining experiences, and I can't wait to try this.”

The downtown Orlando location is the first in Florida, but employee Larry Glover said there are plans to expand in the state in the next few years.

“The most exciting part is it’s growing really fast and has huge potential,” Glover said.  “The company running it in Florida is phenomenal.”

Next time you’re craving a burger endorsed by a Wahlberg, remember that Wahlburgers is just around the corner at 200 S. Orange Ave.

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Sarah Gangraw is a contributing writer for the Central Florida Future.

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