Whataburger dished out more than $90 million in bonuses to thank pandemic workers

Whataburger sign in front of blue sky with light clouds
Photo: Whataburger

As if Texans needed another reason to brag about Whataburger: the San Antonio-based burger chain has officially awarded more than $90 million in bonuses to its employees. Today reports that the bonuses are a thank you to the workers who served throughout 2020, weathering both the coronavirus pandemic and unusually severe winter weather throughout the South.


“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,” Ed Nelson, Whataburger CEO, said in a statement. “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.”

Quick note: when Nelson mentions Whataburger’s “Family Members,” he’s referring to the chain’s employees. And while I’m usually cynical when a company refers to employees as “family,” Whataburger did take pretty good care of its people during the pandemic. According to the statement, Whataburger employees received emergency pay, Extra Mile bonuses, and a doubling of their 401(k) plan matching for 2020. I don’t know that any fast food joint can be seen as particularly ethical, but I do wish more employers took the time to offer tangible benefits for workers who put their lives on the line this year.

Staff writer @ The Takeout, joke writer elsewhere. Wrangling dogs and pork shoulder in Chicago.


I know the source article does not cover this, but I can’t find anything on whether this applied to everyone who worked at a Whatburger, or just the corporate/Nelson owned locations.

They do have franchises, which might be outside the bonus/incentive plans as they are not part of the standard operating structure.