CORPUS CHRISTI Texas Whataburger Restaurants LP has promoted Preston Atkinson to president of the 700-unit chain, filling the vacancy that was left by the departure of Tim Taft more than a year ago.
Atkinson retains his prior title of chief operating officer, but has relinquished his duties as executive vice president.
The president's post had not been filled since Taft left the company more than a year ago to join Pizza Inn in The Colony, Texas.
Tom Dobson, chairman and chief executive of the family-owned Whataburger, said, "People, food and culture are paramount as we look to the future, and Preston understands the important balance of honoring our past as we grow."
Atkinson joined Whataburger in 1998. Previously, he had built Whataburger restaurants as president and owner of Atkinson and Associations Builders. He joined Whataburger as vice president of construction and later was promoted to chief development officer and became COO in 2005.
Atkinson said, "My continuing focus is to preserve a legacy that now includes the well-being of more than 18,000 Whataburger team members and our many loyal customers. With the support of the Dobson family and the 'team' approach this entire company has embraced, I look toward our future with great optimism and gratitude."
Harmon Dobson founded Whataburger in Corpus Christi in 1950. The chain operates in 10 states.