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VIDEO: Mark Wahlberg shares love for Detroit at opening event for Wahlburgers in Greektown

Posted: 11:21 PM, Aug 10, 2016
Updated: 2016-08-11 12:37:13-04

Hundreds of people lined Greektown's streets at breakfast time to catch a dinnertime glimpse of Mark Wahlberg.

Detroit's newest burger joint celebrated its VIP event, as the Transformers star opened the doors to Wahlburgers.

When Wahlberg arrived from the set of the latest Michael Bay movie, people shouted his name and cheered him to through his red carpet walk.

He made it clear: the love is mutual.

"I was welcomed here with open arms. It's such a great city," he told Action News.

"I was doing an interview on a television show, I was just talking about shooting a Transformers movie, and I was shooting in Detroit. People were like, 'Detroit??' And I was like, 'Yeah, Detroit's fantastic.'"

Wahlberg said he found the urge to open one of his family's restaurants in the city as soon as he started working here years ago.

"It was the first thing I started talking about," he said.

He found the perfect partner for the job in typical Wahlberg fashion. He befriended an unsuspecting local business owner.

During the filming of Transformers: Age of Extinction in 2013, the actor ate dinner almost every day at a restaurant in Birmingham.

The owner of that restaurant, Nino Cutraro, welcomed Wahlberg and his family to his home for dinner and a boat ride days after they began eating at the Birmingham establishment.

"I didn't know if he was going to come or not, but then I had a phone call on a Saturday afternoon and he said, 'We're coming,'" Cutraro recalled on Wednesday.

Wahlberg showed up at Cutraro's house with 16 people and a friendship was born.

"Me and my wife were like, 'Wow! Mark Wahlberg's at our house," he said.

They remained close after the movie production left Michigan, and Wahlberg convinced Cutraro to partner with him and open a Wahlburgers franchise in Detroit.

"I hope to continue to come here, and I want to bring more television, more film, and certainly more Wahlburgers here. It's a great place to be." Wahlberg added.

Brad Galli is an anchor and reporter at WXYZ Detroit. Follow Brad on Twitter @BradGalli