People started lining up shortly after dawn Tuesday to be the first diners at the eagerly awaited Wahlburgers restaurant in the Meijer parking lot along Randall Road in St. Charles.
The venture -- the 45th in the chain owned by actors Donnie and Mark Wahlberg and their chef brother, Paul -- opened its doors at 11 a.m.
Several women were seen wearing T-shirts that said "Donnie's Favorite," which are sold by Wahlburgers.
"But I really am!" joked Tiffany Marchyshyn, who was standing in line with Karen Travis.
"The others are all fakes!" Travis said. The duo came from Crystal Lake for the opening.
Donnie Wahlberg and his wife, TV host Jenny McCarthy, addressed the crowd before the opening, and then ducked inside. Paul Wahlberg came out around 11:15 a.m., and was promptly besieged with requests for photos, which he happily agreed to do.
One of the first was with two women from the suburbs of Detroit, Mary Amoromino and Shiela Dorton. Amoromino was wearing a "New Kids on the Block House Party" tank top. It was a memento from an online performance the New Kids on the Block, of which Donnie is a member, gave this spring, performing a song written for the pandemic.
"I love the family atmosphere," Dorton said of Wahlburgers restaurants. She and Amoromino have been to ones in Boston; Royal Oaks, Michigan; Taylor, Michigan; Detroit; Cleveland; and Myrtle Beach, Florida.
Chef Paul spoke via Zoom before the opening.
For his brother Donnie -- currently a star on the long-running television series "Blue Bloods" -- "I think this is such a labor of love for him," Wahlberg said, calling his brother "super creative."
One of the St. Charles-specific touches is an area called "The Happy Place," for social-media users.
"The Happy Place is a very big thing for Donnie," Paul Wahlberg said, noting his brother's use of social media.
The restaurant was supposed to open in March, but the COVID-19 pandemic interfered. "Like everybody, we are trying to do the best we can and have as normal a life as we can," Paul Wahlberg said.
And because Donnie lives in St. Charles with McCarthy, "I think this is such a labor of love for him," Paul Wahlberg said.