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Family-Owned Whataburger Isn’t Family-Owned Anymore

The burger chain sold a majority stake to a private equity firm

Whataburger [Official]
Nadia Chaudhury is the editor of Eater Austin covering food and pop culture, as well as a photographer, writer, and frequent panel moderator and podcast guest.

Texas’s favorite family-owned burger chain Whataburger has new owners — since announcing last month that it was looking to “explore our options,” it has sold a majority stake to BDT Capital Partners, a private equity firm, while the chain’s founding family, the Dobsons, retains a minority share.

The goal behind the new ownership is to expand the burger chain to “new audiences,” according to the press release. Further details on that expansion weren’t available yet, according to a rep, but it could mean that there could be locations coming soon to the East and West coasts, the Midwest, and other northern states, regions which are currently without any Whataburgers.

The actual transaction between the two companies is expected to be finalized later in the summer, but those numbers weren’t revealed either.

Whataburger’s headquarters will stay in San Antonio. Current president and CEO Preston Atkinson and board chairman Tom Dobson will step away from daily operations but will remain on the board of directors. Taking over as president starting on Monday, July 1 is Ed Nelson, who had been the chief financial officer and controller.

BDT focuses on partnering with what it calls “family and founder-led companies,” which have included Peet’s Coffee and Tea, Krispy Kreme, tequila company Casa Dragones, and Weber Grills.

Harmon Dobson opened the first Whataburger in 1950 down in Corpus Christi, and it grew with over 800 locations across Texas and other nearby states.


601 Barton Springs Road, , TX 78704 (512) 477-9586 Visit Website