Majority ownership of Whataburger acquired by Chicago-based bank

TEXAS (KOSA) -- There are few things Texans are more proud of than Whataburger, but as of Friday the restaurant is owned by an out-of-state investment bank.

(Cropped Photo: Jonesdr77 / Wikipedia / CC BY-SA 3.0)

BDT Capital Partners in Chicago took over majority ownership of Whataburger from the Dobson family, who have owned the company since the first restaurant opened in Corpus Christi in 1950.

“We want to take our brand to new markets and new customers, and give people an opportunity to see what people love about us,” Whataburger VP of Brand Communication Pam Cox said. “For our existing customers we want you to know that we are committed to the tradition and the legacy that the Dobson family has built, and we will do everything we can to continue making you proud.”

The Whataburger headquarters will remain in San Antonio, and leadership isn’t expecting to make any major changes.

“We’ve promoted a very tenured leadership team that together has 150 of combined experience just with the Whataburger brand,” Cox said. “We are confident that they know exactly what to do to take us into the future and bring our brand to new customers.”

Still, a Chicago-based company taking over has some Texans worried. After all, a quick internet search indicates the closest Whataburger to Chicago is nearly 700 miles away, in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

“It’s kind of weird to talk like it’s our football team or something, but when you think Texas you think Whataburger,” Odessan and Whataburger fan Ethan Burtram said. “It’s kind of odd to have it sold to somewhere in Chicago.”

However, maybe this is a chance for Texas to share its beloved Whataburger with the rest of the country.

“It’s actually exciting to expand Whataburger, because it’s been great for years,” Jennifer Marquez, who drives from Pecos to Odessa for Whataburger, said. “I love it. And I know the people in Chicago would love Whataburger as well…as long as they don’t change the menu.”

“As long as they keep the sweet and spicy burger, I’m good.” Burtram said. “They get rid of that and I’m done.”

Whataburger currently has 828 locations across ten states. Texas is home to 676 of those restaurants.