Wednesday, April 7, 2021

[EXCLUSIVE] Whataburger Secures Prized College Location

We are not yet able to share news of a confirmed deal for Whataburger in metro Atlanta, but we did obtain confirmation of a new Whataburger about a hundred miles away.  The popular San Antonio-based burger joint plans to open what will be its 20th Alabama location later this year in Auburn.  The new Whataburger is opening at Toomer's Corner, where it will occupy the historic former Bank of Auburn building at 101 North College Street, a stone's throw from Auburn University. 

The new Whataburger in Auburn replaces quick-serve pizza restaurant Pieology, which opened in late 2015, but shuttered in 2020.  Prior to Pieology's opening, the historic building [circa 1906] had housed The Bank Vault, a bar that occupied the space for eight years. Prior to that, it was the popular bar Bodega, which opened in 1997, and was The Coffee Bank before that. 

Plans for the 4,658 square foot space indicate that Whataburger plans to display its classic stylized "W" logo along North College Street and its full name along West Magnolia Avenue.  

Whataburger's willingness to adapt to existing opportunities and do without a drive-thru suggest the company could be equally willing to explore creative opportunities when entering metro Atlanta.  

In addition to the Auburn location, Whataburger has another nearby location already under construction in Opelika, about six miles from Auburn's campus.  The Opelika Whataburger, the site of which ToNeTo Atlanta visited earlier this month, is being built at 2501 Gateway Drive, across the street from the sprawling Tiger Town shopping center, on the site of a shuttered O'Charley's.  A Whataburger representative previously indicated that plans call for the Opelika location to be open later this summer.  

Whataburger already operates eighteen other locations elsewhere in Alabama including four in Mobile, two each in  Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, and single units in Leeds, Foley, Daphne, and Pelham, among others.  

ToNeTo Atlanta reported February 11 that Whataburger has several sites under review in Georgia, which remains the case.  At present, the company operates just a single location in Georgia, in Thomasville, about an hour north of Tallahassee and about four hours south of Atlanta.  Our February report mentioned a facebook page Bring Whataburger to Atlanta, which after ten years of existence saw its page "likes" spike from about 1,000 to more than 1,600.  Additionally, our report was viewed more than 50,000 times and shared on Facebook more than 500 times.  

It's clear that Whataburger is interested in entering the greater metro Atlanta area and it's equally clear that the public has interest in seeing them open locally, but its movement comes at a time when more restaurants than ever are looking to open drive-thru units.  Simply put, there are likely more restaurants looking than there are spaces available, which is surely making it more competitive (and expensive) than ever to secure prime locations.  

How far would you drive for a Whataburger?  What is your favorite chain burger joint?  Do you have information about a Whataburger happening in metro Atlanta?

Please share your thoughts below.  


Unknown said...

Whataburger started in Corpus Christi, Texas in 1950.

Unknown said...

You need to bring Whataburger to Tennessee? Preferably Pigeon Forge/ Gatlinburg in the heart of the Smokies mountains. Tourists would flock to and East Tennesseans would be drawn like a moth to a flame. Knoxville is just 20 minutes away plus many smaller towns embedded in other countries within 4O miles. The profits would be phenomenal!!!

Unknown said...

You need to put a whataburger in phenix city Al,the land here does not cost that much and everyone comes through here going to the beach in fla.think about it you could really make it a good deal we need a whatabuger please.

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