BDT Capital Partners, LLC, a Chicago-based merchant bank, acquired a majority interest in Whataburger, San Antonio, Texas.

Together, BDT and Whataburger will begin exploring expansion plans, and announced an internal leadership realignment.

Whataburger headquarters will remain in San Antonio.

“Whataburger has grown significantly over the years. And, in order to keep satisfying our customers, we’ve been exploring different options to expand the brand and introduce it to new audiences. We’ve gone through this process purposefully and diligently because we wanted to find a partner who honors our values, culture and 69-year legacy of family tradition,” says Preston Atkinson, president and CEO of Whataburger. “We’re excited about the partnership with BDT because they respect and admire the brand we’ve built. 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.”

BDT will be key in providing strategic vision and long-term growth capital to the Whataburger leadership team.

“Whataburger is an iconic brand and extraordinary company with an important legacy of family ownership, loyal customers, valuable community involvement, dedicated and talented employees and a highly experienced management team,” says Tiffany Hagge, managing director of BDT Capital Partners. “We look forward to a long-term partnership with the Whataburger team, continuing their commitment to serving high-quality, great-tasting food at a value and delivering a superior customer experience. We are excited to support Whataburger, as they continue to innovate and pursue accelerated growth in existing and new markets. This investment is a perfect example of BDT’s business model – to partner and invest alongside exceptional family businesses, with strong cultures, deep community ties and loyal customers.”

“As the brand embarks on a growth and expansion plan, we decided the time was right to promote new leadership to carry the company forward,” says Atkinson. “This leadership team has the right combination of Whataburger core values, strategic vision and people-centered leadership to take us into the future.”

Effective July 1, Whataburger’s executive leadership team will include:

Ed Nelson, currently chief financial officer and controller, will be promoted to president.

Leonard Mazzocco, currently serving as vice president of business operations, will take on the role of senior vice president and chief operating officer.

Rob Rodriguez, currently serving as senior vice president of restaurants, will assume the role of senior vice president and chief restaurant operating officer.

James Turcotte, currently senior vice president of the real estate segment, will continue in his role and be promoted to chief development officer.

Mike Sobel, currently vice president of retail, will be promoted to senior vice president of retail.

Michael Gibbs, currently senior vice president and general counsel, will continue his role as general counsel and will be promoted to executive vice president.

This leadership realignment will allow Atkinson and Dobson to step aside and focus on operating Las Aguilas, a diversified investment company that focuses on real estate and philanthropy.