Whataburger Franchise Cost, Fees & Requirements 2024

Known for its signature mouth-watering burgers and tasty fries, Whataburger is a beloved American fast-food chain with 900+ locations in the United States. This regional fast-food restaurant chain has consistently been praised for its classic menu staples like burgers, fries, shakes, and breakfast items made with fresh ingredients.

Thanks to its unique A-framed orange-and-white-stripe-roofed buildings and its commitment to quality, Whataburger has earned a loyal following over the years. With a delicious variety of menu items made from scratch, it’s no surprise that people continue to flock to this restaurant chain for their favorite meals.

If you have experience in the food-service industry and are looking to start your own business, then owning a Whataburger franchise could be the right choice for you. Read on to learn more about the Whataburger franchise and how to become a part of this successful restaurant chain.

Does Whataburger Offer Franchising

About Whataburger Franchise

Whataburger is an American regional fast-food chain renowned for its 100% pure, never-frozen beef served on a toasted five-inch bun. Headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, Whataburger has been serving delicious burgers and other classic menu items 24/7 since 1950.

Known for its distinctive A-framed orange-and-white-stripe-roofed buildings and the alluring aroma of freshly cooked food, this restaurant chain is beloved by many for its quality ingredients and commitment to freshness. Their burgers are made with fresh ground beef, never frozen, and cooked over an open flame grill, making them an irresistible treat for burger lovers everywhere.

Aside from burgers, Whataburger also offers a variety of breakfast items, sandwiches, sides, and shakes, making it the perfect place to grab a meal in the morning or evening. The restaurant’s iconic name was inspired by founder Harmon Dobson’s goal to make a burger so tasty that customers would exclaim, “What a burger!” when they tried it.

Whataburger Franchise History

Whataburger Franchise History

Whataburger was founded in 1950 by Harmon Dobson and Paul Burton, two entrepreneurs from Corpus Christi, Texas. Harmon Dobson wanted to create a restaurant that served burgers, so big customers had to hold them with two hands.

The first Whataburger restaurant opened in August of that same year on Ayers Street in Corpus Christi. The original menu consisted of burgers, fries, and drinks only, and the signature item was the “Whataburger,” which sold for 25 cents. 

In 1951, after arguments regarding raising the burger’s price from 25 cents to 30 cents, the original partners split up, and Harmon Dobson took sole ownership of the Whataburger franchise, whereas Burton settled with getting ownership of the Whataburger franchises in franchises in San Antonio, Texas.

The first non-founder-owned Whataburger franchise opened in 1953 in Alice, Texas. Since then, the franchise has expanded across many states, with the majority of locations found in the south-central United States.

Whataburger opened its 100th store in 1972, and 8 years later, it opened its 300th location. Whataburger continued expanding, and in 1995, it opened its 500th store.

Today, Whataburger operates over 900 locations across the United States, although most of them are located in the south-central region and are company-owned.

Is Whataburger A Franchise Company?

Yes, Whataburger does offer franchising opportunities to individuals interested in becoming part of their brand.

However, it is important to note that becoming a Whataburger franchisee requires meeting certain requirements and going through a rigorous evaluation process.

These requirements typically include financial qualifications, business experience, and a demonstrated commitment to the Whataburger brand and its values.

Franchise Model Table

Cost Or FeesAmount
Initial Investment$1,200,000
Franchise FeeN/A
Royalty FeeN/A
Estimated Outlets900+

How Much Does It Cost To Open Whataburger Franchise?

The cost of opening a Whataburger franchise varies depending on the location and size of the restaurant, but all potential franchisees must meet certain financial requirements in order to be eligible.

Investment costs can range between $1.2 million and up and include real estate, equipment costs, construction costs, working capital, and any other fees associated with starting a new business.

Additionally, potential franchisees must have a liquid asset of at least $5 million and a net worth of at least $12.5 million in order to qualify. This requirement is in place to ensure that all Whataburger franchises are adequately funded and able to operate without issue.

Whataburger does not disclose its upfront franchise fee or ongoing royalty & advertising fees publicly, but you can find out more information by contacting them directly for more details about their franchising opportunities.

Whataburger Net Worth 2022

Whataburger DataAmount
Revenue$3 billion
Average Profit Ratio7.5%
Net Income$225 million
Average P/E Ratio20
Estimated Net Worth$4.5 billion

Please note that this estimation may not be as accurate as a comprehensive valuation analysis. Here’s a rough approximation:

  1. Determine the average profit ratio: Given that you mentioned a profit ratio range of 5-10% for the restaurant industry, we can assume an average profit ratio of 7.5%.
  2. Calculate the net income: Net Income = Revenue x Profit Ratio Net Income = $3 billion x 7.5% = $225 million
  3. Use a P/E ratio to estimate net worth: Since Whataburger is a privately held company, we don’t have access to its specific P/E ratio. However, we can assume a standard P/E ratio for the restaurant industry, which is typically around 20.

Whataburger’s Net Worth = Net Income x P/E Ratio Net Worth = $225 million x 20 = $4.5 billion

Whataburger Franchise Requirements

In order to qualify for a Whataburger franchise, potential franchisees must meet certain requirements.

First and foremost, they must have a liquid asset of at least $5 million and a net worth of at least $12.5 million. This financial requirement is in place to ensure that all Whataburger franchises are adequately funded and able to operate without issue.

Additionally, prospective franchisees must demonstrate prior experience in operating a business and possess strong leadership skills and managerial abilities. They should also be able to develop a detailed plan outlining how they would manage the restaurant’s operations, including staffing, marketing, customer service, and more.

Whataburger also looks for individuals who are passionate about their brand and committed to providing customers with high-quality food and excellent service. Franchisees must understand the Whataburger brand values of serving quality burgers quickly with friendly hospitality.

Lastly, Whataburger requires its franchisees to complete training programs that cover topics such as restaurant operations, safety protocols, customer service standards, and other essential aspects of running a successful business. 

Whataburger Franchise Training And Support

Whataburger Franchise Training And Support

Whataburger takes the success of its franchisees very seriously and offers comprehensive training to ensure they are well-prepared to manage their restaurant.

Franchisees must complete an extensive training program before opening their Whataburger location, which covers topics such as restaurant operations, safety protocols, customer service standards, and more. The company also provides ongoing support through its dedicated team of experts who can help franchisees stay updated about industry trends and best practices.

Whataburger also offers assistance with marketing initiatives, providing franchisees with a range of tools and resources to help promote their business. This includes access to a team of experts, marketing materials such as brochures and flyers, advertising campaigns, social media support, and more.

Finally, Whataburger aims to provide continued guidance throughout the life of each franchisee’s operation. This includes regular visits from experts who can offer advice on how to maximize profits while maintaining customer satisfaction levels. 

Whataburger Franchise Terms Of Agreement & Renewal

Whataburger requires its franchisees to commit to opening and operating at least five Whataburger restaurants within five years of signing their agreement. This agreement outlines the terms and conditions that must be met for the successful operation of each restaurant, such as standards for food quality, customer service, and more.

The renewal terms and fees are not disclosed publicly, but prospective franchisees can connect with Whataburger’s team of experts in order to learn more about the details associated with renewing a Whataburger franchise.

Whataburger Franchise Obligations And Restrictions

When it comes to operating a Whataburger franchise, there are certain obligations and restrictions that must be adhered to in order to maintain compliance with the company’s standards. Franchisees must use approved suppliers for all ingredients and food products, as well as abide by specific pricing guidelines when setting menu item prices.

Additionally, they must adhere to specific safety protocols and hygiene standards. This means that all kitchen staff must wear protective clothing at all times and that food items are stored and handled properly in order to prevent cross-contamination.

Whataburger also requires its franchisees to keep their restaurants clean and up-to-date with repairs. Franchisees are responsible for any necessary renovations or improvements to their restaurant locations, as well as ensuring that all legally required maintenance is completed on a regular basis.

Whataburger Franchise Financial Assistance

Whataburger does not provide direct or indirect financial assistance to franchisees. However, they strongly encourage prospective franchisees to explore all their options when financing the start-up costs associated with opening a Whataburger restaurant.

One of the most popular options is taking out a loan from the Small Business Administration (SBA). The SBA offers low-interest loans that are specifically tailored for small businesses looking to finance their start-up costs. Franchisees can apply for an SBA loan directly through their website.

Prospective franchisees should also consider reaching out to family members and close friends who may be willing and able to contribute financially towards getting their business off the ground.

Entrepreneurs considering a venture into the fast food franchise sector might explore options such as Subway, Krispy Kreme, Domino’s Pizza, Del Taco Franchise, and Zwarma franchises.

Whataburger Comparison

CompanyWhataburgerPanda Express 
Founded In19501973
Initial Investment$1,200,000$377,100 – $1,884,000
Total Outlet8301,900
Annual Revenue$6.7 Million$100 Billion


Whataburger has established itself as one of the top names in fast-food franchising, and they are a great option for those looking to break into the food industry. With its commitment to quality and its extensive support system, Whataburger is an ideal fit for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to be successful with their business ventures.

Now that you have a better understanding of the requirements and obligations associated with owning a Whataburger franchise, it’s time to get started on your journey toward becoming making profits as a Whataburger franchise owner.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Are You a Good Fit for a Whataburger Franchise?

When it comes to franchising Whataburger, one of the essential concerns to address is the enormous financial needs. Again, if you have the financial means, becoming a franchisee should not be an issue.

Why choose a Whataburger franchise over another?

Whataburger’s exceptional standard, for which its customers remain loyal, can never be compared to any other franchise. This burger franchise sets the standard for all others.

What is the profit margin on Whataburger's annual sales?

The corporation makes a profit of $1 billion per year.

Does Whataburger offer Franchise?

Yes, Whataburger offers remunerative franchise opportunities to entrepreneurs.

How much does a Whataburger Franchise Cost?

The initial investment cost of a Whataburger franchise ranges from $545,500 to $894,500, with an additional franchise fee of $40,000.

Is Opening A Whataburger Franchise Worth It?

Yes, opening a Whataburger franchise is worth it. The company has an excellent reputation and provides extensive support to its franchisees.

Who Owns Whataburger?

Whataburger was family-owned by the Dobsons until 2019, when BDT Capital, a private equity firm, acquired a majority stake.

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