NewsCovering Colorado


Whataburger announces sale of majority stake to merchant bank, expresses interest in expansion

Posted at 1:37 PM, Jun 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-14 15:43:09-04
Photo courtesy of Whataburger

SAN ANTONIO, Texas – One of the most popular burger joints in the country announced it is selling a majority of its stake to Chicago-based BDT Capital Partners, a bank that “specializes in family and founder-led companies.”

The sale was made official on Friday, and the company said that it’s part of its effort to “position itself for the future” and “begin exploring expansion plans.”

As part of the terms of the sale, current company executives will remain at the helm of the 24-hour restaurant chain, and Whataburger said it will “stay true to its brand.”

At News5, we asked one question: Can we expect a Whataburger in Colorado Springs or Pueblo any time soon?

“We’d love to expand into a place like that,” said spokesperson Jenny Gregorcyk. “But {there’s} nothing to announce.”

But there’s still hope! A quote in a news release from Whataburger President and CEO Preston Atkinson indicates that the sale was made in order for the company to focus on a “growth and expansion plan.”

“Whataburger has grown significantly over the years. And, in order to keep satisfying our customers, we’ve been exploring different options to expand the brand and introduce it to new audiences,” Atkinson said in the announcement. “We’ve gone through this process purposefully and diligently because we wanted to find a partner who honors our values, culture and 69-year legacy of family tradition.”

That news release went on to say that the decision to sell was “difficult and emotional” for the Dobson family, who founded the restaurants. The company said the Dobsons made the decision in order for the family to focus on another venture, Las Aguilas, a diversified investment company that was established by the Dobsons.

The Dobson family will still hold a minority ownership position in the company and Tom Dobson, the current board chair of Whataburger, will remain on the company’s board of directors.

The first Whataburger opened in 1950 as a small roadside burger stand in Corpus Christi. It now has nearly 700 restaurants in Texas and more than 150 others in southern states extending from Arizona to Florida. There are currently no Whataburger restaurants in Colorado.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)