Whatadeal: ‘Texas treasure’ Whataburger sells to Chicago-based company


Popular San-Antonio-based burger chain Whataburger, declared an official Texas Treasure by the state legislature in 2001, has sold a majority stake to BDT Capital Partners, Whataburger confirmed in a press release Friday. The sale to the Chicago-based merchant firm is expected to finalize later this summer.

“Whataburger is an iconic brand and extraordinary company with an important legacy of family ownership, loyal customers, valuable community involvement, dedicated and talented employees, and a highly experienced management team,” said BDT Capital’s managing director Tiffany Hagge in the release. “This investment is a perfect example of BDT’s business model–to partner and invest alongside exceptional family businesses, with strong cultures, deep community ties and loyal customers.”

Along with news of the sale, Whataburger announced changes in internal leadership, including a new president, Ed Nelson, who has been promoted from his position as chief financial officer and controller. Current vice president of business operations Leonard Mazzocco will take on the role of chief operating officer, and current senior vice president of restaurants Rob Rodriguez will take over as chief restaurant operating officer.

Current Whataburger leadership said the sale comes after a period of consideration for brand expansion strategies.

“We’re excited about the partnership with BDT because they respect and admire the brand we built,” said current Whataburger CEO and President Preston Atkinson.

Whataburger was founded in Corpus Christi in 1950.

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  1. we’ll see if they respect the brand if they do ‘nothing’ to current operations.

    I fear the worst (turns into McD’s, BKing, etc) but will hope for the best. If not, I’ll be searching for another chain…..

  2. Proverbs 13:20

    Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.


  3. “A history of family ownership.”

    Not anymore. Corporate sellouts. Can now take whataburger off my shop local list.

  4. I lived in Austin from 94-03 and then Dallas from 03-05. Whataburger was good food and something I would enjoy, especially since it was a so called ‘Texas Brand’. I kind of get why people are upset because of the pride that many Texans feel for the State of Texas. Nothing I say matters, but here is my opinion. It was privately owned, but the powers that be decided to sell their majority stake for two reasons. 1. To get paid some big time money. 2. To have someone else deal with the expanding of this brand nationwide. Call it whatever you want, if most people had the opportunity to make some real life changing money (which I am sure the one’s who get the most money from this deal are way better off than most of us anyways) they would take it and should take it.

    • I think this can be a positive development for the company and the brand. Trying to compete with McDonald’s or Burger King by changing Whataburger’s product line would be pointless. Better to promote the brand…especially as a little bit of Texas. They might get some state support with promoting a Texas brand nationwide. We’ll have to see how it all works out. By the way as an aside, people should try and make a trip to Corpus Christi to the original Whataburger. Of course, it isn’t some old roadside stand anymore, but very nice iconic A-frame all the same. Note: There are more than 760 Whataburger restaurants across 10 states.

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Olivia Aldridge
Olivia is the reporter for Community Impact's Southwest Austin edition. She graduated from Presbyterian College with a bachelor's degree in English and creative writing in 2017. Olivia was a reporter and producer at South Carolina Public Radio in Columbia, South Carolina before joining Community Impact in Austin.
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