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Whataburger Sells to Chicago-Based Merchant Bank

Chicago-based BDT Capital Partners has acquired a majority interest in Whataburger. As part of the transaction, Whataburger made a series of personnel moves. The burger chain’s headquarters will remain in San Antonio.


BDT will provide strategic vision and long-term growth capital to the Whataburger leadership team. “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,” said Tiffany Hagge, managing director of BDT Capital Partners.

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

  • Ed Nelson, currently serving as chief financial officer and controller, will become president. Nelson joined Whataburger in 2004 as controller for the company. Since 2008, Nelson has been at the helm of Whataburger’s financial department as chief financial officer.ed nelsonEd Nelson  
  • Leonard Mazzocco, currently vice president of business operations, will take on the role of senior vice president and chief operating officer. Mazzocco joined Whataburger in 1999 as the operations services director and has since guided efforts in brand management, marketing, human resources, supply chain, shared services and product development. He was promoted to his current role in 2014.
  • Rob Rodriguez, senior vice president of restaurants, will assume the role of senior vice president and chief restaurant operating officer. A 30-year restaurant industry veteran, Rodriguez’s teams have piloted new models used in concept revitalization and opened and expanded new restaurant markets. He joined Whataburger in 2006 as a director of operations and was named a senior vice president in 2014.
  • James Turcotte, senior vice president of the real estate segment, will continue in his role and be promoted to chief development officer. Turcotte began his Whataburger career in 1998 as a director in the real estate division. He then took on the role of group director followed by vice president of franchise development. In 2004, Turcotte was named vice president of property and facilities. 
  • Mike Sobel, vice president of retail, will be promoted to senior vice president of retail. Sobel joined Whataburger in 2011 as the company’s group director for supply chain solutions, before assuming his current role in 2014.
  • Michael Gibbs, senior vice president and general counsel, will continue his role and be promoted to executive vice president.

When these transitions take effect, Preston Atkinson and Tom Dobson, current Whataburger president/CEO and board chair, will step aside and focus on operating Las Aguilas, a diversified investment company established by the Dobson family in 2011. Atkinson and Dobson will hold seats on the Whataburger board of directors to provide ongoing guidance.