Considered a Texas treasure for more than 50 years, many Texans were devastated to learn one of the Lone Star State’s most popular and beloved businesses might not be truly Texan for very much longer.
On Friday, Whataburger announced that it had agreed to be acquired by BDT Capital Partners, a Chicago-based investment group. The financial terms of the arrangement have not been released, but statements from the two companies say the fast-food chain will continue to be headquartered in San Antonio.
At least for now.
According to those same reports, Whataburger’s founders, the Dobson family, will maintain a minority stake in the company. Current president and CEO Preston Atkinson and board chairman Tom Dobson will keep their seats on the board but will retire from daily operations.
Dobson said there was no beef about the decision, but selling the company was “both exciting and bittersweet.”
“Whataburger has been the heart and soul of our family legacy for nearly 70 years, but we feel really good about the partnership with BDT,” he said in a statement. “They have a track record of success with businesses as special as ours that want to grow while preserving culture and family history.”
But while Whataburger is indeed being sold, you won’t need to make a 1929-esque run to your closest orange-and-white striped eatery for honey butter chicken biscuits and spicy ketchup just yet.
In fact, it might be even easier to find a location “just like you like it” in the near future. BDT Capital says they plan to grease the skids on expansion plans by financing additional locations and bringing the brand to more communities.
“We look forward to a long-term partnership with the Whataburger team, continuing their commitment to serving high-quality, great-tasting food at a value, and delivering a superior customer experience,” the company said in a statement. “We are excited to support Whataburger as they continue to innovate and pursue accelerated growth in existing and new markets.”
While Texans will have to wait for things to shake out, it looks like the all-time favorite is getting Whatasized.
While the development could be fruitful for the organization, the move still has its critics. Individuals from Houston Texans defensive end JJ Watt to Empower Texans CEO Michael Quinn Sullivan have already publicly decried the decision.
“Ok, I say we all chip in and buy Whataburger back. Make honey butter chicken biscuits available all day, add kolaches to the menu and change nothing else,” tweeted Watt. “Especially not the ketchup.”
“Noooooooooooooooo! Not you, too, Whataburger?!” exclaimed Sullivan. “A Chicago-owned chain now? As a Texan, I feel absolutely betrayed. Might as well eat at In-N-Out now.”
The news comes just one day after family-owned Schlitterbahn announced it would be selling its Texas-based water park properties. Now many Texans are asking themselves, “What Texas treasure will be put up for sale next?”