Family-owned Whataburger sells majority stake to Chicago-based bank

Family-owned Whataburger has been sold to a Chicago-based investment bank.

BDT Capital Partners, LLC now owns a majority interest in the iconic Texas fast food chain. The Dobson family that has owned Whataburger will retain a minority interest in the company.

In an announcement on Friday, Whataburger said it will immediately begin working on expansion plans.

“We’re excited about the partnership with BDT because they respect and admire the brand we’ve built,” said Whataburger President/CEO Preston Atkinson. “They want to preserve it while they help us continue growing a sustainable, competitive business over a long period of time.”

The bank owners said they will provide capital to fund expansion efforts and strategic vision in growing the fast food chain. Whataburger will remain headquartered in San Antonio.

SMU economist Mike Davis says the sale to the investment bank is all about bringing home the bacon. Davis says the goal of trying to expand from being a regional chain does bring some risk, but the company has been doing well in a fast-food industry that has been stagnating.

FOX4 spoke with Whataburger customers on Friday and they all said the same thing – they hope the sale doesn’t change the friendly approach of employees and the quality of food.

"I said don't you guys Chicago my Whataburger. Let's hope it does not get Chicago'ed," said customer Derreck Wells.

Davis says the new owners shouldn't change a thing.

“They would be crazy to mess with this formula that has worked,” Davis said.

The first Whataburger opened in August 1950 in Corpus Christi. There are now more than 800 locations in Texas and in other southern states.