Texas burger chair Whataburger on Friday sold a majority stake to a Chicago-based investment firm BDT Capital Partners. Beloved by Texans, the family-owned Whataburger tried to assured customers on Friday that they will "always be Texan and represent you in a way that makes you proud."
The company said its headquarters will remain in San Antonio. BDT and the Whataburger team will begin exploring expansion plans, CBS San Antonio affiliate KENS reports.
"We're excited about the partnership with BDT because they respect and admire the brand we've built," Whataburger president and CEO Preston Atkinson said. "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."
Whataburger got its start in 1950 as a roadside burger stand in Corpus Christie, Texas and was founded by Harmon Dobson. It now has 820 locations in 10 states, with nearly 700 of those in Texas. The Dobson family had previously maintained a majority stake.
As many Whataburger fans expressed their disappointment online, Whataburger insisted it would not be changing, tweeting out pictures of the same signature burger before and after selling control of the company to BDT with the caption "an inside look at Whataburger business strategy."
Texan defensive end JJ Watt issued a plea on Twitter, writing "Ok, I say we all chip in and buy Whataburger back, have honey butter chicken biscuits available all day and add kolaches and change nothing else. Especially not the ketchup."
By Saturday, Watt's tweet had been retweeted more than 20,000 times.