The Wahlberg brothers didn’t have to look far to find someone to lead their Hingham-based restaurant chain. They ended up picking their No. 2, Patrick Renna, who took over the job as chief executive at Wahlburgers on an interim basis after Rick Vanzura left last June.
“I’m glad they’ve given me the support to help lead the company,” Renna said. “We’ve accomplished a lot over the last 11 months. We still have a ways to go.”
Renna has helped guide the company’s growth as its chief financial officer since joining on a part-time basis in July 2015 and then as a full-time CFO in early 2016. His new title will be president. (The company no longer uses the CEO title.) Before joining Wahlburgers, Renna ran the Boloco chain as its chief executive.
Wahlburgers has grown to 30 locations from the original burger shop that celebrity brothers Mark, Paul, and Donnie Wahlberg opened in Hingham in 2011. Renna wants to get that number to 40 by the end of the year. The next opening planned is for Monday in London.
For much of that time, the chain’s growth has taken place in an unusual spotlight: a reality TV show. The A&E cable network last month announced it had renewed the show, also called “Wahlburgers,” for a 10th and final season.
Renna has a busy plate this year, with plans on tap to roll out an online ordering system across the chain, launch its first loyalty program, and develop a new fast-casual format. Wahlburgers restaurants are currently split between full-service locations and a hybrid format that includes quick service at a counter area. Wahlburgers won’t continue to grow the hybrid concept, Renna said, and it may convert some existing hybrid locations to full-service restaurants.
Renna will oversee a workforce of about 400, spread among the headquarters and five corporate locations. The rest of the restaurants are owned by franchisees. This year, Wahlburgers expects its systemwide sales to exceed $100 million.Jon Chesto can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.