Bill and Kim Geary knew a visit to the new Wahlburgers restaurant in Key West was a “must-do” as soon as they realized it was scheduled to open in the Southernmost City.
Their son Robby, a 9-year-old super-fan from Tampa, who “idolizes Mark Wahlberg,” wanted to share a picture he drew of Wahlberg with the staff at the new restaurant in the city’s Historic Seaport neighborhood.
“We had recently been to the Orlando location and it was closed,” Robby’s mother, Kim Geary, said. “Robby was heartbroken, so when he saw there was a Key West location opening, we knew we had to go.”
The Key West Wahlburgers was scheduled for an ‘invite-only’ soft opening, but after Kim explained her son’s affinity for all things Mark Wahlberg, the staff invited them to join as honored guests.
“We arrived and Robby immediately started showing Sima (Sima Sayyad is a Wahlburgers trainer from Frisco, Texas) the picture he drew of Mark and how much he loves the Wahlburgers’ show,” Kim Geary said.
Sima, realizing she had a super-fan in the restaurant, graciously introduced the Geary family to Jim Oboyski, Wahlburgers vice president of operations, who was on hand for the big day.
“After Robby showed Jim his drawing of Mark, I noticed Jim quietly walk away with his phone speaking to someone saying, ‘Hey boss,’” said Kim. “Less than a minute later, Jim was handing the phone over to Robby with Mark Walhberg live on FaceTime.”
Immediately, Robby was in shock when he saw his role model, Wahlberg, live on the phone. Although Wahlberg was filming a new movie in Germany, he took the time (more than five minutes) to reach out to one of his youngest fans — even giving Robby a tour of his hotel room in Berlin.
“We talked about Tom Brady going to the Bucs (Robby’s favorite team) and he told me he was shooting a movie in Berlin,” said Robby. “I told him how I watch his TV show all of the time and I asked him about coming to Tampa to see Brady play.”
While it’s unclear whether Robby and Wahlberg will cross paths again, Kim Geary says her son was “in heaven” after speaking to his favorite star and it was “a memory he will never forget.”
Either way, Robby has already been telling his buddies at his local rec center about his unbelievable encounter. He said his favorite Wahlberg film remains “Daddy’s Home 2” with co-star Will Ferrell. When asked what Robby would like to tell Mark Wahlberg about the star’s incredible gesture, Robby paused and said, “I would just tell him I hope to meet him in person one day and that he is my favorite.”
After hearing about the star’s enormous heart and gracious appreciation for his young fan, it’s hard to imagine Wahlberg not being on anyone’s favorite list for years to come.
Wahlburgers is located at 700 Front St., Key West.
Key West is no stranger to marquee celebrities. For decades, American presidents, writers, musicians and actors have sought refuge within the island’s vibrant landscape and iconic culture. But when one of the world’s most recognized A-list actors sets up shop along the city’s Historic Seaport, even an island that prides itself on having immunity to…