Published in Economic Development

Little River Holdings to announce partnership bringing Wahlburgers to tribal properties

BY Friday, July 16, 2021 03:15pm

Little River Holdings LLC, a wholly owned enterprise of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, is poised to announce a new partnership with fast casual burger restaurant Wahlburgers.

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Little River Holdings has signed a letter of intent with Wahlburgers Franchising LLC

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, granting it exclusivity to either franchise or own and operate restaurant locations on tribal properties in both the U.S. and Canada.

The deal is not yet finalized, but the parties plan to announce the partnership at the upcoming National Indian Gaming Association Tradeshow & Convention in Las Vegas, Little River Holdings CEO Eugene Magnuson told MiBiz.

Wahlburgers is a growing chain of restaurants founded by three Wahlburg brothers, including actors Mark and Donnie Wahlberg. The restaurant chain was also featured in a reality television show that shared its namesake, which ran for 10 seasons on A&E.

Mark Wahlberg is scheduled to attend the Las Vegas convention on Wednesday to formally announce the partnership.

“There are a lot of tribes that have significant offerings in food and restaurants — some of them have up to 20 or 30 locations within their tribal properties,” Magnuson said. “One of the things I did notice is there were no Wahlburgers available. That kind of surprised me. … I reached out to corporate and started preliminary discussions.”

The convention will bring together nearly 10,000 tribal officials and other interested parties, making the event an ideal place to announce the partnership, Magnuson said.

“(With) the fame and success (the Wahlburg brothers) have and the marketing reach that they offer with the name, basically the restaurant could sell itself,” Magnuson said. “Adding a tribal element, I think, is just a perfect formula for success.”

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