- Name: Whataburger
- Founding date: August 8, 1950
- Headquarters: San Antonio, Texas
- Founder(s): Harmon Dobson and Paul Burton
- Known for: Delicious hamburgers, Honey Butter Chicken Biscuits, Being Open all day, A-frame style buildings, Iconic logo
- Official Website: https://whataburger.com/
- Twitter Handle: @whataburger
- Instagram Handle: @whataburger
- Facebook Page: /whataburger
In 1950 Harmon Dobson joined with Paul Burton to build a burger restaurant that sold a better burger. Harmon Dobson was more of the visionary for the project and had a goal to “make a better burger that took two hands to hold and tasted so good that when you took a bite you would say ‘What a burger!'”. Dobson would file for the trademark “Whataburger” and have it granted in June of 1950 roughly a month before the franchise’s first location opened up on Ayers street in Corpus Christi.
The first Whataburger A-frame buidings were inspired by Harmon Dobson’s love for flying and debuted in 1961, then underwent changes in 1974 to accomodate modern amenities like drive-thru windows. The original Whataburger only sold burgers, chips, and drinks – french fries and pies wouldn’t be added to the menu until 1962. The iconic “flying W” logo wouldn’t be created until 1967.
Founder Harmon Dobson passed away in a plane crash in 1967, 17 years after founding the fast-food brand. His wife Grace Dobson took control and became Chairman of the Board in 1969 guiding the company through decades of expansion and shifting market conditions. According to records most of her friends urged Grace to sell the Whataburger empire, but instead she fought hard and tought her family the business to make sure it thrived, a love note to her late husband. While Harmon Dobson was the visionary founder of the brand, Grace was the benevolent one. Harmon created an enduring product and established the foundations that Whataburger still grows on today, Grace ensured the brand gave back to its community earning her the nickname “Lady Grace” and setting in motion an enduring legacy that lives on in Whataburger’s giving to local charities.
Today Whataburger thrives as a tribute to the vision, hardwork, and thoughtfulness of its founding family. On June 14th, 2019 the Dobson family sold a majority stake in the company to BDT Capital of Chicago, IL. While some Texans are still unhappy about this and claim it means Whataburger abandoned Texas, in fact the brand is still headquartered here in San Antonio and the founding family still has minority ownership. Until BDT buys all of the ownership and moves the brand out of Texas, we will still consider Whataburger an iconic Texas brand.
Harmon and Grace Dobson had their first date at the original Whataburger in Corpus Christi in 1955. So if you take somone to Whataburger on a first date, it’s not weird, it’s honoring the past of Texas!
Articles About Whataburger
References and Additional Reading
Rebecca Canfield (June, 2019). “Lady Grace and the Whataburger Legend”. Texas Living. Retrieved December 6th, 2021.