close
close

Whataburger app transforms into powerful Hurricane Beryl tool

Whataburger app transforms into powerful Hurricane Beryl tool

Whataburger Inc.’s smartphone app stepped into the breach after Hurricane Beryl this week, offering users a map of power outages that the South Texas power provider couldn’t provide.

Whataburger, based in San Antonio, Texas, reported that on Tuesday, July 9, the day after Hurricane Beryl made landfall on the Texas Gulf Coast, it saw a 286% increase in new user registrations and 30,430 downloads of its app.

An X, formerly Twitter, message from Bryan Norton, a podcaster who uses the X handle @BBQBryan, noted around 10pm Monday: “The Whataburger app acts as a power outage tracker, which is helpful because the utility doesn’t provide a map.” That post had been viewed more than 2.5 million times as of Thursday.

Norton, whose podcast “Tales From the Pits” is available on iTunes and Spotify and has a website, thebbqpodcast.com, said Wednesday: “The Whataburger post was a wild ride. I never expected it to go viral and didn’t even tag Whataburger in the original tweet.”

Whataburger Chief Marketing Officer Scott Hudler added in an email: “When I first saw this pop up on @BBQBryan’s X account, I had a feeling it would go viral, but we never expected this.

“We built our app to make it easy for our guests to order their favorite Whataburger item, but we’re also thrilled that the app has been able to help Houstonians who want to know where the power is after the storm,” Hudler said.

CenterPoint Energy, which oversees electricity distribution in the Houston area, will eventually an emergency card was issued.

Hudler said, “Actually, the credit goes to Bryan for discovering it and alerting people on social media. We like to say that Whataburger is that good friend by your side, through good times and bad — and usually it’s all about our warm hospitality and fresh, hot food. But this is a new twist on that.”

Hudler praised CenterPoint workers for their efforts to restore power, as thousands of people were still waiting for restoration Thursday.

Hudler noted that Whataburger, as a brand, “can often be a beacon of hope or normalcy during difficult times. We don’t take that lightly. And we’re working on plans to support the community through donations and food.” Waffle House, the Atlanta-based company, has been credited with and also be able to function normally again quickly.

Hudler said Whataburger partnered with the Red Cross and the Houston Food Bank by donating water and recruiting food trucks.

“This brand was founded 74 years ago in Corpus Christi, Texas, and we call San Antonio home today,” Hudler said. “Texas is a very special market for us. And when a natural disaster strikes in Texas, we want to make sure we step in to help.”

In 2019, Whataburger, then family-owned, sold a majority stake in Chicago-based BDT Capital Partners. There are more than 1,000 restaurants in 15 states.

Hudler said the company immediately made sure our restaurants had the supplies they needed to feed people when the hurricane made landfall in South Texas.

“We know that people are counting on us for a hot meal, maybe even in difficult times, because they know they can count on us,” he said. “We stayed focused on our family members and the Houston community and how we could help.”

The popularity of the Whataburger app as an alternative way to track power outages hasn’t changed the company’s mission, Hudler said.

“Our mission is ‘Delivering Goodness 24/7,’” he said, “and that’s what we’re focused on. We’re focused on delivering a great guest experience with hospitality and great food and the safety of our family members.

“Specifically for Houston, we are focused on reopening all of our restaurants and working with the local Red Cross and Houston Food Bank to support the Houston market,” he said.

“We also have a lot of news app users in the Houston market,” Hudler noted, “and we’ll be working to ensure they stay by sharing some of the great value offers available exclusively to our rewards members.”

Contact Ron Ruggless at (email protected)

Follow him on X/Twitter: @RonRuggless