Why Are Whataburger’s Hardcore Fans So Angry About The Recent Sale Of The Chain To A Chicago Investment Firm
Just days ago, iconic Texas burger chain Whataburger announced that Chicago-based firm, BDT Capital Partners, LLC, will acquire a majority share in the previously family-owned company. Founder Harmon Dobson started Whataburger nearly 70 years ago and left the company to his son, Tom Dobson, who will step down as CEO.
In a statement, Dobson maintains that BDT will preserve the culture and family history of Whataburger, but Texas is in an uproar. From a Texan taquería’s marquee sign that reads, “Dear Chicago, if you hurt her I’ll kill you,” to fans swearing the state of Texas will march to Chicago and “burn the whole city to the ground,” one thing’s for sure, they are pissed.
Don’t mess with Texas.
If you don’t know what Whataburger means to Texas, just know that the Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, has even tweeted out a call to ‘save’ Whataburger. The chain restaurant is only available in southern states and is known for offering made-to-order burgers 24/7.
Many fans are upset on principle of giving up majority say to non-Texans.
Whataburger’s social media team is clearly working tirelessly to try to respond to as many comments as possible. Currently, there are over 6k comments of outcry in two posts alone.
Though one fan has pinpointed the root cause of concern: The Burger.
A Texan family may have created Whataburger in 1950, but there are currently 824 franchises across the Southeastern and Southwestern United States. Non-Texans can replicate the signature burger. A venture capital firm can make decisions that threaten the quality of those burgers across all states.
The majority of fans are prepared to go to great lengths to preserve quality for as long as possible.
Some fans are planning to stockpile Whataburger’s signature spicy ketchup, for fear the firm will start cutting costs and ruining recipes. Twitter user @AMERICAustin puts it simply, “Y’all can expand across some states but the second the food starts tasting different, you’re unfriended.”
Whataburger replied to him saying, “We love you and want you to know we’re committed to serving the same delicious Whataburger you know and love.” His response? “I’m changing our Facebook relationship status to “It’s complicated.”
Whataburger’s fan base is muy saucy.
It’s obvious they’re having a hard time keeping up with the deep shade fans are throwing their way. Paige Martinez commented, “I’m going to keep a screenshot of this just in case.”
Texans are holding Whataburger to its word.
Houston Texans football star J.J. Watt wants Texans to crowdsource and buy Whataburger back.
Some folks even think Watt doesn’t qualify to be an owning member. One Twitter user even said only fourth-generation Texans get to be majority stakeholders. ????
Whataburger is really trying to roll with it.
They replied to J.J. Watts suggesting he “consider a role in [their] product development team.” If J.J. Watts buys Whataburger with his $100 million a year salary, you bet there will be a JJ Wattaburger on the menu.
The company is trying to ease Texans’ anxiety with messages like this.
The fact of the matter is that the new President and CEO, Preston Atkinson, has already committed to expanding the franchise nationwide. In a statement, Atkinson explicitly said, “In order to keep satisfying our customers, we’ve been exploring different options to expand the brand and introduce it to new audiences.“
So far, the PR strategy is making zero headway with loyal fans.
For some, the principle is the only thing that matters. For others, it’s the burger. It’ll be challenging to see BDT try to maintain its brand loyalty when the brand image itself relies on the product remaining more exclusive and high-quality.
Meanwhile, the rest of the country might just have the last laugh.
If you’re a non-Texan who hasn’t endured a Texan boasting to you about their Whataburger Pride, then you missed out on a nationwide-joke that would have given you the last laugh. Looks like Whataburger belongs to all of America now, and, no matter what Whataburger claims, that changes things.
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