Whataburger says they're awarding employees more than $90 million in bonuses as "thanks for their extraordinary service during the pandemic and severe winter weather across its 10-state footprint."
The San Antonio-based company said they were also doubling 2020 401(k) matching and giving employees Extra Mile bonuses and emergency pay. The restaurant chain currently operates 840 restaurants in 10 states and has approximately 46,000 employees they call Family Members.
"The past year reshaped how we live, work and play, with the restaurant and hospitality industry being heavily impacted by the pandemic and this year's crippling winter storms. We are so humbled and grateful for the loyalty of our customers during this time," said Ed Nelson, Whataburger CEO. "And we wanted to help ensure that our Family Members and their families were taken care of and thank them for continuing to go the extra mile to serve our guests with great Pride, Care and Love. Our Family Members and guests are the foundation of our success, and we are grateful for both."
Some of those family members, the general managers who are running their hundreds of restaurants, are also being given the new title of Operating Partner.
"Operating Partners are business leaders who run multimillion-dollar restaurants, take care of their teams, and serve as the face of Whataburger in their communities," said Nelson. "They are the hearts and souls of our brand."
The company said they are also rolling out a new compensation plan for Operating Partners that puts them, "in the driver's seat to bring home six figures annually, including bonus potential of up to 150 percent of their target incentive, while still maintaining work/life balance."
In June 2019, the majority interest in the iconic Texas hamburger chain was sold to a Chicago-based merchant bank. Whataburger said at the time they were positioning the chain for future growth -- i.e. expansion and franchising.
Last week the company announced they were opening four locations in Kansas City, Missouri, the first for the area.