Preparing for the largest growth phase in its history, Whataburger is making a big investment in its general managers, giving them the title “operating partner” and enhancing compensation to six figures annually, the company said Wednesday.
The move is part of an ongoing effort to reward its 46,000 workers for their extraordinary service through the pandemic, the company said. Over the past year, the San Antonio, Texas-based chain has awarded more than $90 million in bonuses across the 10 states where the chain operates. Whataburger workers also received Extra Mile bonuses, emergency pay and a doubling of the 401k plan matching for 2020.
“The past year has 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’s CEO, in a statement. “And we wanted to help ensure that our Family Members (employees) 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.”
The company is also sharpening its focus on the general manager — now operating partner — level, saying those employees are “business leaders who run multimillion-dollar restaurants, take care of their teams and serve as the face of Whataburger in their communities,” Nelson said. “They are the hearts and souls of our brand.”
Along with the potentially six-figure salaries, operating partners will have bonus potential of up to 150% of their target incentive. Other existing benefits for the position include healthcare coverage, a Health Flexible Spending account, a 401k savings plan, potential profit sharing, discounted meals and other perks.
Whataburger, which in 2019 sold a majority stake to Chicago-based private-equity firm BDT Capital Partners, last year began plans to relaunch franchising after a two-decade hiatus. The chain includes more than 840 locations in 10 states with sales of more than $2.5 billion annually.
Other restaurant chains have also bumped up compensation for workers as they move further into recovery.
Darden Restaurants Inc. last week said it was offering $17 million in one-time bonuses to hourly workers and will raise the pay floor for its non-tipped employees.
Other chains offering workers bonuses during 2020 include Shake Shack, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Domino’s, YUM Brands Inc. and McDonald’s.
Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected]
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