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Whataburger sold to Chicago-based investment bank, eyes worldwide burger & french fry domination

Texas’ favorite home-grown burger chain is no longer home-owned. BDT Capital Partners announced today that they’ve acquired San Antonio-based Whataburger with eyes on expansion.

The current plan is for Whataburger to keep its San Antonio headquarters. The family-owned company’s founders will retain a minority steak in the business. BDT says longtime Whataburger execs will continue to lead the 69-year-old burger chain, which was founded in Corpus Christie but moved its HQ to SA in 2008.

The moves are expected to enhance and accelerate Whataburger’s plans for worldwide burger and french fry domination.

Whatabuger said in a statement the two companies will begin exploring expansion plans.

“We’re excited about the partnership with BDT because they respect and admire the brand we’ve built,” Atkinson continued. “They want to preserve it while they help us continue growing a sustainable, competitive business over a long period of time. They don’t plan to change our recipe for success,” said Whataburger President/CEO Preston Atkinson.

BDT will bring needed capital to grow the brand beyond its current 828 locations across 10 southern states. The privately held Whataburger’s sales are roughly $2 billion annually.

“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 Tiffany Hagge, Managing Director of BDT Capital Partners. “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.”

Whataburger was founded by Harmon Dobson as a small roadside burger hut in Corpus Christie in 1950. Dobson named the stand after the expression he hoped customers would use after tasting his 25-cent Whataburger, a 100% beef patty served on 5-inch buns.

photos: Whataburger, Flicker

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