Whataburger Celebrates 70th Anniversary
AUGUST 4, 2020, SAN ANTONIO
Seven decades. That’s 25,550 glorious days of serving up hot, fresh Whataburgers to our customers, just the way they like it.
From day one – August 8, 1950 – when our founder, Harmon Dobson, opened up the very first Whataburger in a portable metal building in Corpus Christi, Texas. To today, 2020, a year when CEO Ed Nelson helped launch the delivery of customized Whataburgers to customers’ front doors… it’s been quite a ride.
Through it all, you have been with us. Thank you, Whataburger guest, for being by our orange-and-white striped side. It has been our honor to be your hometown Whataburger.
The adversity of the global pandemic challenged us, but it cannot take away our spirit. Together, we created new ways to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and life events. We are resilient in our efforts, and we will pull through this together in the spirit of hope, inside and outside our restaurant walls.
As a brand, we have 46,000 employees (we call them Family Members) who have banded together with a renewed focus. And what we’ve found – is that extra energy and compassion have yielded amazing results.
Some of it has been business focused. This year, Whataburger launched curbside and delivery service, increasing digital transactions to historic levels. With the guidance of our 15-person Strategy Council (a group of tenured Whataburger executives who set strategy and provide counsel for the brand on all major decisions), we’ve broken sales records; sharpened our operational excellence; built seven new restaurants (with nine more planned by the end of the year); promoted our president (and 16-year Whataburger veteran) to CEO; launched a new, modern restaurant design, while preserving the iconic Flying W and A-frame accents; hired hundreds of new restaurant team members; and served up three new, unique limited-time burgers.
Some of it has been people focused. We have provided and delivered hot food to our first responders and frontline health care workers. The brand awarded $1 million in scholarships to our Family Members and their dependents. We kept our restaurant teams employed so they could provide for their own families during this difficult time. And there were countless examples of how Family Members made customers’ days by picking up the tab because of a forgotten wallet or holding an umbrella while walking customers to their cars in the rain. In return, our customers made Whataburger part of their lives in the most remarkable ways: building tiny dioramas of our restaurants, saying “I Do” at their WhataWeddings, featuring us in their high school senior portraits, constructing Whataburger chicken coops and, well, swaddling their newborn babies in taquito wrappers. There is something unique and cool about all of you. About us. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.
And much of our work has been future focused. We’ve got some exciting news. Whataburger is building 35 restaurants (25 company and 10 franchise) in 2021. We’re expanding into new markets (Kansas, Missouri, and Tennessee) and adding to our long-standing Franchisee family by partnering with new franchisees for the first time in 20 years. And later this week, we’re unveiling our Whataburger Food Truck at an event supporting educators on Thursday, Aug. 6th.
We’ve always cared about what you care about. Over the years, the success of schools and students has been a priority for all of us. This year, we are doubling down on our efforts to support students of all ages by launching our signature Whataburger Feeding Student Success program. From hot food to classroom supplies and scholarships, the program is built to help on three levels:
- Resource Rooms: We’ll be partnering with community colleges and universities to build resource rooms, like the one at Grambling State University announced yesterday and the one at the University of Texas at San Antonio that has supplied 32,340 pounds of food since the pandemic.
- Scholarships: To support students in our 10-state (and growing!) footprint, the brand is designing the Whataburger Feeding Student Success Scholarship Fund to award scholarships to those attending technical schools, community colleges and four-year universities.
- Hyperlocal Community Involvement: It takes a village. Whataburger will continue its long legacy of partnering with local schools, foundations, organizations and nonprofits to lend time, treasure and talent as they support students in achieving success.
“From all of us to all of you, thank you for the last 70 years,” said Whataburger CEO Ed Nelson. “And get ready for the next 70. With the help of our tenured leadership team and the Whataburger Family, the brand is taking innovative steps to meet the needs of the next generation of Whataburger fans – while still holding true to the things that matter to our longtime customers. Stay safe. We can’t wait to celebrate in person when the time is right.”
Whataburger has focused on its fresh, made-to-order burgers and friendly customer service since 1950 when Harmon Dobson opened the first Whataburger as a small roadside burger stand in Corpus Christi, Texas. Today, the company is headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, with more than 830 locations in 10 states and sales of more than $2.5 billion annually. Whataburger has 46,000 Family Members (employees) and more than 14 million customers who like to customize their Whataburgers just the way they like it. Whataburger is currently hiring restaurant leaders and offers competitive salaries, benefits and training. Visit whataburger.com for more information.