Thursday, February 11, 2021

[EXCLUSIVE] Whataburger Has Multiple Sites Under Review in Georgia

A Texas burger joint is eyeing expansion with Georgia on its mind.  Whataburger, established in 1950 and based in San Antonio, has more than 840 restaurants.  The majority of them, nearly 700, are in Texas. On the heels of their 2019 majority sale to BDT Capital Partners, a Chicago-based private equity firm, the company is looking to accelerate their growth. Georgia and metro Atlanta are among the markets the company is actively scouting for new restaurants.   

News of the restaurant's metro Atlanta intentions will no doubt be well received by many, but perhaps most of all, the 1,000+ members of the Bring Whataburger to Atlanta Facebook page.  

For those unfamiliar with what Atlanta Magazine called the "crown jewel of Texan businesses," Whataburger is a 24-hour fast food restaurant that serves anything from assorted breakfast fare like pancakes, hashbrown sticks and taquitos, to burgers, patty melts, chicken sandwiches, malts, shakes and more.  The restaurant's breakfast menu is served daily from 11pm to 11am.

Real estate sources tell ToNeTo Atlanta that representatives of the burger chain have looked at several sites in the greater metro Atlanta area - with specific sites under review in Buford, Cumming and Peachtree City - but that no leases have been signed...yet.  The company reportedly plans to open as many as fifteen locations in Georgia over the next few years.    

Whataburger currently operates a single location in Georgia - in Thomasville - which opened in 2005.  A second Georgia location in Valdosta that opened around the same time as the Thomasville unit did not fare as well and has been closed for at least twelve years, according to online research.  Two other Whataburger locations closed in Brunswick in Glynn County in late 2011.    [Whataburger opened their first location in Atlanta, Texas in 2020.] 

Neighboring states Alabama and Florida are already home to eighteen and thirty-six Whatburger restaurants, respectively, but are slated for more in the years to come.  

Classic "A-Frame" Whataburger

In the Birmingham suburb of Homewood, for instance, construction will soon begin for a new Whataburger  on the site of a former Regions Bank.  The burger chain plans to replace the roughly 5,500 former bank building with a new roughly 3,200 square foot restaurant.  (Interestingly, it was Regions that opened a new branch in East Cobb in place of a short-lived Pollo Tropical restaurant.) 

Real estate sources tell ToNeTo Atlanta that Whataburger is in active discussions for multiple sites in Huntsville, Alabama and in several Florida cities, too.  

In a July 2020 post on their website titled "Looking Ahead to the Future," Whataburger officially announced their plans to enter both Tennessee and Kansas City with real estate sources telling ToNeTo Atlanta that the company has sites under review in both Nashville and Chattanooga, among other cities.  

The use of former bank sites could be one way in which the company penetrates Atlanta [and other] markets where many quick-serve operators are already well entrenched and quality available sites are scarce.  Several SunTrust and BB&T bank sites have already become available and more are expected to follow in the months to come as Truist Financial Corporation further reduces its duplicative branch fleet following the merger of the two banks.  Bank of America, Ameris, and Wells Fargo, among others, have also closed select branches where smaller banks and credit unions have already taken over some, but restaurant operators could also have interest.  

New Whataburger restaurant design introduced in 2020 

In their 2020 report "The QSR 50," QSR Magazine estimates that Whataburger generated about $3.2 million per unit in 2019.  Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A was the best performer among QSR peers with estimates of more than $4.5 million per unit.  Chick-fil-A operates more than 2,600 locations across 47 states and Washington D.C., while Whataburger operates about 840 restaurants across ten states.  (Shake Shack will soon open their first drive-thru unit and is not yet a true peer of the two aforementioned chains but is named in the report as generating about $4.2 million per unit.) 

Whataburger announced plans in 2020 to open 25 new restaurants in 2021.  The burger chain did not indicate where those restaurants will be but did announce that the company will begin franchising for the first time in nearly twenty years. Franchising, the company said, will allow them "to open more restaurants in more areas - more quickly and efficiently – while providing job opportunities and investing in the communities we serve." 

In 2009, Whataburger shuttered fourteen restaurants in Florida due to what it said were "low sales."  These restaurants, first opened by franchisees, had subsequently been purchased by corporate.  When Whataburger does open in Georgia it will hope to avoid issues like it experienced in Florida and also those of Del Taco, El Pollo Loco and Pollo Tropical, three fast food chains that have had challenges in their entries into the Atlanta market with the latter two having exited the market entirely.  

Where would you like to see Whataburger open in metro Atlanta?  What is your favorite quick-serve burger joint?  What quick-serve restaurant do you think has the best fries? 

Please share your thoughts below. 

59 comments:

Ham said...

It would seem opening in the outer suburbs would be a good strategy. Less expensive property, more friendly municipalities and a better labor market. Sadly it seems like many great brands come to the metro area and die due to lack of quality employees.

Anonymous said...

Just a heads up, they had another failed location in Brunswick, GA.

But I wouldn't expect Whataburger to fail in the metro. ToneTo better start prepping stories of Burger King closings with this serious competition coming to town...

Tina Miller said...

In Adairsville or Calhoun GA

Anonymous said...

Awesome place and hope they expand to Atlanta.

Anonymous said...

the I-85 North corridor, PLEASE!

Unknown said...

Buckhead Atlanta

Two Texas gals said...

Please bring whataburger to Buckhead. My friend lives there and is from Texas. I sent her this article and she about cried! I know that she would drive to any of you Atl locations ��

Anonymous said...

Anywhere in the Cumming area would be a great move.

Jimbo said...

anywhere in Cumming Ga would be great

FancyTravels said...

Cumming GA would be awesome. We presently drive to Birmingham for lunch on occassion at Whataburger, a 6 hour tour. Whataburger s what a burger really outta be.......

Anonymous said...

I've never been to Whataburger. Looking at their menu they don't have anything out of the ordinary. Can someone please tell me what the draw is? I want them to do well but Culver and Freddy's has more to offer

Unknown said...

I. Am a people person and enjoy working with public if u come to Savannah GA I hope to be the general manager or the manger I love u guys keep me in mind mark Donnie please savannah better choice then Atlanta

Anonymous said...

Been waiting for a while for y'all to put one in Dalton,GA. I work at one in Fl.

Anonymous said...

Carrollton..Villa Rica..Bremen Ga!!!

CloseOTP said...

It seems that some of you commenters think you're speaking directly to Whataburger. You're not. On a more positive note: YAAAAAAAAASSSSSS, so happy Whataburger is coming. Better than In-N-Out in my opinion!

Anonymous said...

I hope these don't end up far out in the suburbs like Culver's, it's just not worth it to make a 30-45 minute drive for a fast food burger no matter how good it is.

Kph76 said...

Hiram ga, Marietta ga,Atlanta georgia,

Unknown said...

I'm from FL now in GA and Whataburger has always been my absolute favorite! Woodstock or Marietta would be a great place to opens stores!

Travis said...

Would love to see Whataburger at Emory, Brookhaven, Decatur...

And would love to know who has the best fries. I'm not certain there is a "best fries" in the fast food industry at present. Please enlighten me!

Anonymous said...

It is about the flavor. Been to Freddy's. They are alright, but they aren't really unique, either. Most food places aren't unique when you look at the menu. A burger is a burger is a burger. A steak is a steak is a steak. Right?

Southwired said...

I thought I remembered one being in Forsyth off I-75 back in the 70's...

johnfenyar said...

2 Words ---- White Castle!

Rob said...

The Mcdonough Stockbridge,and Locust Grove area

Unknown said...

Anywhere in the Woodstock/Canton/Acworth area and you hit gold!

NEZ3000 said...

Tucker area or Suwanee or Gainesville. Or put one in the hospital cafeteria will make a major impact

Blaggirl said...

Please put one in Gwinnett. Right now I drive to Birmingham several times a year to get my fix.

Unknown said...

Keep that crap in Texas. Whataburger is more about nostalgia most people who like them grew up in texas and their liking is tied to the nostalgia of growing up eating it. I loved in texas and have had it and I tell you it nothing special..on the other I'd welcome In and out burger anywhere that is a true treat that everytime I'm out west I have to get.

Unknown said...

I think whataburger is tied to nostalgia most people outside of texas dont see what the hoopla is about.only people who grew up eating it in texas think they are good

Unknown said...

Its nostalgic Texans love them. It's a whole lot of nothing on a bun. Now in and out of my goodness that's something special in a burger

Unknown said...

Jackson/Barnesville lots of truckers coming through here!! Would be a great new place to eat!!

Anonymous said...

North Cobb County area. Kennesaw/Acworth area please!

Unknown said...

Whataburger and IN N Out have the best burgers in America. They need to open in Cobb.

Unknown said...

Roswell Ga in the old Arby's site Hwy 92 CROSSVILLE Rd. 3 high schools within 1 mile!

Unknown said...

Douglasville please!!!!!

New World Observer said...

The Perimeter area - easily accessible from the entire ATL metro

BigRedDogATL said...

I would like to suggest they consider the old Hardee’s location in Alpharetta. It is just around the corner from the proposed drive through Shake Shack.

Unknown said...

Put a few in South Carolina!!
Charleston, Columbia, Summerville
Greenville, Spartanburg, Florence
ETC .......



.

Anonymous said...

Dalton GA

Anonymous said...

Marietta, Mableton or Austell GA wouls be great!!!

Unknown said...

We LOVE Whataburger!!! It would be heaven on earth if they opened one in Woodstock. We always eat there when we visit my sister in Houston.

Anderson said...

Can you bring one to wiscosion

Texas Mike said...

Suggest Cherokee County, Marietta, Acworth, I-575 and I-75 corridors northward from Cobb County.

Anonymous said...

How about Douglasville Ga. we need some good burger places around here.

Anonymous said...

Toco hills!!

Anonymous said...

Come to the Southside! College Park, Fayetteville, Riverdale, Union City, Stockbridge, Jonesboro

Lynn12671 said...

You need to put 2 locations in Warner Robins,GA one on Watson Blvd and one on 96 this is a military town you would do fantastic just ask Bucees!!

Anonymous said...

I have traveled to Texas and have eaten at several locations. Always super service and food.

At one point they had several locations in Alabama, Montgomery and Birmingham and all were closed.

I am off to Mississippi soon, and will be sure to stop and enjoy at least one or two meals.

I have dined at the Georgia location as well. No issues at all.

Hopefully they will open up several locations in the area. Taking over old and closed bank branches makes sense.

Thanks for the research and background information. Enjoy your blog.

Anonymous said...

Canton, Woodstock, Marietta, Kennesaw, Cartersville, Acworth!!!

Unknown said...

In the City of Atlanta; Ponce de Leon Avenue or Piedmont Ave.

Unknown said...

SMYRNA NEEDS Whataburger! Two former Texas, my husband & I head immediately for a Whataburger whenever we visit TX! Great, with jalepenos! SMYRNA SMYRNA SMYRNA or we could drive to nearby Marietta (but SO many good options there already! So, SMYRNA! please)

Cindy Lou said...

Hogansville, Georgia

Cindy Lou said...

Hogansville or Newnan

Cindy Lou said...

Hogansville or Newnan Georgia

Anonymous said...

I'll take one in the Roswell/Alpharetta area. The one thing I have noticed is that the Whataburgers outside Texas/Gulf Coast area seem to be really inconsistent in terms of quality. There used to be one in Montgomery right off I-85 and it was a disaster every time I visited. Same with the other ones that were open in GA that have since closed.

Greenwave said...

Culvers & Freddy's still haven't opened up a location in Atlanta. I am not driving to the suburbs for fast food. I know it's cheaper to open outside the city but these fast food restaurants need to get a grip on reality.

Anonymous said...

Pathetic...

gmg said...

Roswell Ga please.
Lots of Texas Transplants will keep the Whataburgers open here.
Yes, it's nostalgia fueling the hype...but it's the flavor and freshness that keep people going there.
Kind of like Georgia's obsession with Chicfila.

robintyler said...

Come on down to Cherokee county! Canton, Georgia!

Unknown said...

Douglasville, ga

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