Whataburger in Florida with History

It took me a long time to try Whataburger, but once I did, I never looked back. I plan all of my road food trips with a stop at one of the almost 40 Whataburger locations in Florida. There is a complete listing of all of them below after all the Whataburger food pictures.

The double patty with cheese is a great burger. I was surprised that I liked it this much because when I’m told how awesome something is, disappointment is usually on the horizon.

My biggest regret after every visit is not taking a burger for the road. But at least I still have the Fancy Ketchup, so I can dip my fingers if I get desperate.

I’ve become such a super fan after my first visit years ago that my friend Phillip surprised me with a Whataburger Pez Dispenser. Unfortunately or fortunately, it was not burger-flavored.

Whataburger Fancy Ketchup Talk

I had also heard many great things about Whataburger‘s Fancy Ketchup. It was so popular that, at one point, Fancy Ketchup had a Facebook page with over 16,000 fans.

So, the ketchup comes in those little sauce tubs at the restaurants, perfect for the boneless chicken. The first thing I hit up was the fries, mostly because I wasn’t about to dip my fingers in the ketchup alone. The fries were crispy, but man, that ketchup!

In retrospect, just dipping my fingers in it might not have been so bad an idea.

Dipping Sauces from Whataburger in Houston, Texas
Whataburger Dipping Sauces

Back in the day, I’d have to horde those little ketchup tubs for later usage. Please note that the nearest Whataburger in Florida is 5 hours from my house.

As of May 2013, the Fancy Ketchup and Spicy Ketchup can be bought online and at supermarkets. Not only are they available in a variety of packs, but the sauce line has been expanded to include Buffalo, Buttermilk Ranch, Creamy Pepper, Honey BBQ, Honey Mustard, Jalapeño Spicy Ranch, Mayo, and Mustard. There’s even a Whataburger Pancake Mix!

Food Talk

Truthfully, my first Whataburger experience was in Tallahassee, Florida, for breakfast. The jalapeño cheddar biscuit sandwich with hash brown sticks made me a fan instantly!

Whataburger Jalapeño Cheddar Biscuit Sandwich
Jalapeño Cheddar Biscuit Sandwich
Hash Brown Sticks

While the shoestring fries are good by fast food standards, it’s the Spicy Ketchup used for dipping them that’s the game changer.

French Fries from Whataburger in Houston, Texas
French Fries

I eat my burgers without veggies; well, that’s not true; onions make an appearance quite often. Whataburger‘s five-inch bun and American cheese are all I need with my burger patties.

Whataburger Double Cheeseburger
Double Meat with Cheese

When I see a limited-time burger that might catch my eye, like the sweet and spicy bacon cheeseburger, I’ll try it.

Sweet and Spicy Bacon Cheeseburger
Sweet and Spicy Bacon Cheeseburger

However, 99 out of 100 times, I’m all about the Jalapeño Double Cheeseburger with onions and yellow mustard. It doesn’t get any better than this.

Double Jalapeño Cheeseburger from Whataburger in Houston, Texas
Double Jalapeño Cheeseburger

For Dessert? A fried pie, of course, preferably the apple.

Whataburger Fried Cherry Pie
Fried Cherry Pie
Whataburger Fried Apple Pie
Fried Apple Pie

Whataburger Florida Locations

702 N Tyndall Parkway
Callaway, Florida
(850) 250-1073
2300 S Highway 29
Cantonment, Florida
(850) 968-2470
8340 N Century Boulevard
Century, Florida
(850) 256-4020
3850 S Ferdon Boulevard
Crestview, Florida
(850) 689-2800
2434 US Highway 331 S
Defuniak Springs, Florida
(850) 892-6107
101 Harbor Boulevard
Destin, Florida
(850) 650-7708
190 Eglin Pkwy NE
Fort Walton Beach, Florida
(850) 244-1951
23 Miracle Strip Pkwy SW
Fort Walton Beach, Florida
(850) 244-9167
399 Mary Esther Cut Off NW
Fort Walton Beach, Florida
(850) 864-1970
1135 Gulf Breeze Highway
Gulf Breeze, Florida
(850) 934-6180
10600 San Jose Blvd
Jacksonville, Florida
(904) 337-6340
11559 Atlantic Blvd
Jacksonville, Florida
(904) 425-9755
7165 Philips Highway
Jacksonville, Florida
(904) 281-7900
7755 Normandy Boulevard
Jacksonville, Florida
(904) 693-0181
8239 Old Middleburg Road S
Jacksonville, Florida
(904) 371-3347
8325 Southside Blvd
Jacksonville, Florida
(904) 900-5330
8840 Beach Boulevard
Jacksonville, Florida
(904) 642-7947
2401 S Highway 77
Lynn Haven, Florida
(850) 265-2099
1778 Blanding Boulevard
Middleburg, Florida
(904) 406-7418
4983 Highway 90
Milton, Florida
(850) 995-2580
5346 Stewart Street
Milton, Florida
(850) 626-4350
6920 Navarre Parkway
Navarre, Florida
(850) 515-1185
1201 Atlantic Boulevard
Neptune Beach, Florida
(904) 270-2840
4450 E Highway 20
Niceville, Florida
(850) 897-0271
289 Blanding Boulevard
Orange Park, Florida
(904) 215-0999
5648 Woodbine Road
Pace, Florida
(850) 994-1033
11749 Panama City Beach Parkway
Panama City Beach, Florida
(850) 230-2508
1313 N New Warrington Road
Pensacola, Florida
(850) 453-3141
1790 W Fairfield Drive
Pensacola, Florida
(850) 444-9161
214 E Nine Mile Road
Pensacola, Florida
(850) 484-2776
417 E Gregory Street
Pensacola, Florida
(850) 438-4636
5070 N 9th Avenue
Pensacola, Florida
(850) 478-0563
5480 Pensacola Boulevard
Pensacola, Florida
(850) 477-4298
6129 Mobile Highway
Pensacola, Florida
(850) 944-7948
815 E Burgess Road
Pensacola, Florida
(850) 480-5265
10725 Emerald Coast Parkway
Sandestin, Florida
(850) 650-6607
2850 County Road 210 W
St Johns, Florida
(904) 342-3012
105 CBL Drive
St. Augustine, Florida
(904) 342-6028
179 Village Commons Drive
St. Augustine, Florida
(904) 429-1358
1101 Thomasville Rd
Tallahassee, Florida
(850) 681-9202
1701 W Tennessee St
Tallahassee, Florida
(850) 222-4484
2511 Apalachee Pkwy
Tallahassee, Florida
(850) 942-7886
2586 N Monroe St
Tallahassee, Florida
(850) 386-6191
815 Lake Bradford Rd
Tallahassee, Florida
(850) 575-8602
463773 State Rd 200
Yulee, Florida
(904) 548-9715

Whataburger History

Paul Barton and Harmon Dobson founded Whataburger. They opened their first restaurant in Corpus Christi, Texas, on August 8, 1950, right across from Del Mar College. A couple of months earlier, Dobson had met Burton and decided to finance a small hamburger joint.

His goal was to create a better burger that was so large that it would take two hands to hold. The burger also had to taste so good that when you took the first bite, you would exclaim, “What a burger!”

The Texas Secretary of State’s office made the “Whataburger” trademark official on June 23, 1950.

A-Frame Buildings

Whataburger in Jacksonville, Florida
Whataburger in Jacksonville, Florida

The first Whataburger location was a modest building, but they later became known for their iconic giant A-frame buildings. The roofs were colored with orange and white stripes because Dobson, a pilot, wanted to spot his restaurants from the sky.

The first of these buildings opened in 1961 in Odessa, Texas. Some former A-frame buildings have been repurposed by other burger joints, like John’s Drive-in in Fort Meade, Florida.

Dobson was known to fly over Corpus Christi’s skies with a “Whataburger” banner in tow. His great advertising idea didn’t end there. He would also drop coupons for free Whataburgers.

Gainesville What-A-Burger in The Orlando Sentinel June 28th, 2003
Gainesville Whataburger talk in The Orlando Sentinel June 28th, 2003

Whataburger Creation

Dobson wanted something more massive than the standard two-ounce burger patties on a tiny bun. His Whataburger was a quarter-pound patty grilled to order with lettuce, three slices of tomato, four pickles, chopped onions, mustard, and ketchup.

The larger burger called for a more substantial bun, but a five-inch bun did not exist yet. After finding a company that could make the custom pans and molds, they were in business.

On opening day, the menu consisted of twenty-five-cent burgers, chips, and drinks. The first day’s take was fifty dollars, with ninety-one more trickling in over the next couple of days.

On the fourth day, Dobson wrote in his diary:

Big day―$141.80―Christ―What a workhorse. 551 burgers.

Yup, they were onto something, all right.

Dobson Takes Over

Burton and Dobson’s partnership ended in 1951 over a disagreement about raising the price of their burgers from twenty-five to thirty cents. Under their new agreement, Burton owned all franchises in the San Antonio, Texas, area. He was a loyal Whataburger operator until he died in 1970.

Dobson retained control of the rest of the Whataburger company. Dobson, who had a great sense of humor, posted a giant sign outside the restaurant with this message:

“Folks, we priced our burgers too low, and we lost our shirts. Sorry, but we gotta raise the price to thirty cents.”

Customers found the sign charming and were not about to give up their Whataburger over five cents. Funny enough, a few short months later, he raised the price again to thirty-five cents.

First Franchise and Expansion

The first Whataburger franchise was sold to Joe Andrews in 1953. In 1959, the first Whataburger restaurant outside of Texas opened in Pensacola, Florida.

Eight years later, they had almost forty locations and were in Arizona, Florida, Tennessee, and Texas.

On April 11, 1967, tragedy struck. Dobson took off in his Cessna Skymaster airplane, and something went wrong after takeoff. The aircraft crashed, killing him and his passenger instantly.

Dobson’s will stated his desire for Whataburger to continue after his death, and his wife Grace followed in his footsteps and led the company. Their son Tom Dobson was later elected president of Whataburger in December 1993.

Current Company Status

The eighties were not a good decade for Whataburger. They lost focus on their signature dish, the Whataburger.

Tom, along with his new management team, turned around the company’s fortunes. They revitalized their relationships with the franchisees, improved their marketing efforts, and made sure their locations received a facelift.

Whataburger was proclaimed a Texas Treasure during the Seventy-seventh Session of the Texas Legislature in 2001.

Today, Whataburger has more than 900 locations in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and, of course, their home state, Texas.

Over 50 years later, Whataburger has stood the test of time. It is now owned by a Chicago investment firm, with the Dobson family holding a minority interest. The new owners are working on continued expansion plans with the family’s blessing.

Burger King Whopper Connection

Burger King‘s founders, David Edgerton and Jim McLamore were driving from a Jacksonville Insta Burger King (what the company was initially known as) location to a new Insta Burger King in Gainesville. The building was a prefab, which meant it could be moved if it didn’t do well in its current spot.

After a few hours there, not one customer had walked in. However, customers were lined up at the Whataburger restaurant just down the block. The sign outside announced a giant hamburger, so McLamore got in line and ordered two burgers.

The unwrapped sandwich featured a quarter-pound hamburger patty on a five-inch wide bun topped with lettuce, tomatoes, mayonnaise, pickles, onions, and ketchup. He took one bite and understood the hype.

On his walk back to Insta Burger King, he finished his burger and gave Edgerton the second one. Edgerton liked it, too. On their drive back to Miami, they talked about adding a more massive burger to their menu and then marketing it.

They chose the name “Whopper.”

*History is an excerpt from my book All About the Burger.

4 thoughts on “Whataburger in Florida with History”

  1. Hello to whoever reads this , Can you have someone please build a restaurant in Minneola fla 34715 ……. Me and my wife and our friends drive all the way up to saint Augustine fl that’s the only one . We are located by the fla turnpike . Please can you guys build one in our area please


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