Whataburger: the better burger chain!
Last Updated on July 29, 2019
What could make you say, “whataburger!”?
How about a five-inch wide hamburger?
Harmon Dobson, now there’s a name to remember. Back in August of 1950, with no previous restaurant experience, Harmon Dobson opened his first Whataburger on
Ayers Street in Corpus Christi, Texas. Today there are 808 Whataburgers in the United States, with the majority located in Texas.
Like many new businesses, Harmon’s first Whataburger started off slow, with sales over the first three days amounting to just $191. But, Harmon had something special for burger-lovers: his burgers were five inches across, unlike other burger restaurants whose burgers were only four inches wide. And, that, is why folks said, “whataburger!” Well, as we all know, good news travels fast and, on the fourth day, Dobson’s sales spiked to 551 burgers, for a total $141.80.
Tragedy Strikes the Dobson Family
Harmon was sharp businessman, always looking for new markets. His advertising was unique: he tossed promotional flyers from his plane. Sadly, in 1967, while traveling for business, Harmon’s plane went down.
His wife, Grace was at home with their three children when Harmon’s plane crashed. While Grace and her children dealt with their grief, investors began knocking on the door, pleading with her to sell the business. After all, it was the 1960’s and women couldn’t run a business and raise a family, could they?
Grace defied the odds when she insisted on keeping the business and running it, herself. She wanted to fulfill her husband’s dream of keeping the business in the family.
In 1971, the company opened its first drive-through restaurant. In 1972, Whataburger celebrated the opening of its 100th store.
In 1974, the A-frame design was changed to a more modern “A” style to accommodate drive-thrus and larger dining rooms.
Why are Whataburger restaurants orange and white?
This distinctive colour combination was chosen by Harmon who, as a pilot, wanted to be sure that his restaurants
could be seen from the sky. The first orange and white A-frameWhataburger was opened in Odessa, Texas in 1961.
Keeping it in the Family
In 1993, Grace handed over leadership of the company to her son, Tom Dobson, who became president and CEO.
In 1996, Whataburger launched its first Family Convention, which continues to take place every two years. The Convention includesWhataGames, a six-month long competition where every restaurant employee competes to show their knowledge of the company’s history and commitment to company values. The employees from the best stores compete for a $5000 prize for each team member who wins first place.
On June 14, 2019, the Dobson family sold its majority stake in the company to BDT Capital, a Chicago-based investment firm. While much of the current leadership will remain, they will take on new roles within the company. The Whataburger headquarters will remain in San Antonio.]
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