Apr 28, 2024 - Business

Whataburger is coming to North Carolina

whataburger in phoenix

A sign for a 24-hour Whataburger in Phoenix, Ariz. Photo: Epics/Getty Images

Whataburger expects to be in North Carolina by 2025, the company confirmed, declining to provide additional details.

Why it matters: Whataburger is to Texas what In-N-Out is to California: a longstanding burger chain known for its fresh, juicy patties and die-hard following.

Zoom out: Like fellow national brands Shake Shack and Wegmans, customers nationwide are clamoring for Whataburger locations. When the company opened its first Nashville restaurant in 2022, some even camped out for the grand opening, with hours-long lines.

Driving the news: Whataburger is in its "very early phases" of planning restaurants in Raleigh, Cary and Durham, a spokesperson told the News & Observer recently.

  • Whataburger has also submitted plans for three locations throughout Charlotte: in a Publix-anchored development on Albemarle Road, in a former bank at 5301 South Blvd. and on 5018 Sunset Rd., the Charlotte Observer reported.
  • The chain also has plans for restaurants in Greensboro and Fayetteville, per the N&O.

Yes, but: It's unclear which North Carolina market will welcome the state's first Whataburger. A spokesperson declined to share further timeline details with Axios.

The intrigue: The Texas Whataburger, started in Corpus Christi in 1950, is a totally separate company from What-A-Burger, which was founded in North Carolina in 1956, as Kathleen Purvis wrote for Our State in 2020.

  • Known for its nostalgic feel and freshly cooked burgers, What-A-Burger today operates a handful of drive-in restaurants, from Greensboro to Concord to Mount Pleasant.
  • There's also an unrelated Virginia What-A-Burger. In 2002, the Texas and Virginia companies sued each other over trademark ownership, Purvis wrote. But the court ruled that the two chains could coexist "because consumers weren't likely to be confused by the two companies."
  • South Carolina, which also has a What-A-Burger, is getting at least 10 Whataburgers in coming months.
  • A Whataburger spokesperson declined to comment further about potential name confusion in North Carolina.

Zoom out: North Carolina has seen a growing number of national restaurant chains with devout customer bases either expand here or announce plans for expansions in recent years, including Shake Shack, Sweetgreen, Jeni's and Dave's Hot Chicken.


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