Running a restaurant isn’t as easy as it looks. Just ask Mark, Paul, and Donnie Wahlberg, owners of Wahlburgers.
The Wahlberg boys are suing the former business manager of their Hingham burger joint, claiming his “improper conduct, gross mismanagement, and breaches of duties’’ have all but stifled the restaurant’s expansion plans and could jeopardize its licenses and permits.
The suit, filed Oct. 25 in Suffolk County Superior Court, alleges that Edward St. Croix, who was the Wahlbergs’ business partner when Wahlburgers opened with great fanfare a year ago, did an “abysmal’’ job and “failed to meet even the most basic duties as business manager.’’
St. Croix, who lives in Hull, could not be reached Friday. According to the lawsuit, he was removed as Wahlburgers business manager in June.
The restaurant, located in the Hingham Shipyard commercial complex, was conceived as a gourmet burger restaurant, capitalizing on the Wahlbergs’ name recognition: Mark, of course, is an A-list actor and producer, Donnie is a member of New Kids on the Block, and Paul is the chef and owner of Alma Nove, a restaurant also in the Hingham Shipyard.
The lawsuit doesn’t detail St. Croix’s business experience before being hired by the Wahlbergs, but states that he “represented himself as having had significant experience with the start-up and management of several business enterprises.’’ But the lawsuit claims he was “incompetent and unqualified’’ to handle issues related to bookkeeping, obtaining licenses and permits, and raising capital. The alleged lack of oversight led the restaurant to incur “substantial fees,’’ the lawsuit states, and made it “problematic’’ for Wahlburgers to file its taxes.
In addition, the suit alleges that St. Croix (inset) obtained investments in a “haphazard fashion’’ and diverted some of the money to another restaurant he was hoping to open. The Wahlbergs’ attorney, Christopher Litterio, declined to comment Friday, referring calls to a publicist in Los Angeles who did not return a call.
While St. Croix is no longer employed at Wahlburgers, company CEO Rick Vanzura, who was charged last July with operating under the influence, is still on the job. According to the Hingham District Court Clerk’s Office, Vanzura’s case is continued without a finding until next July.