Fort Smith Whataburger one of four planned by franchisee

by Michael Tilley ([email protected]) 8,395 views 

The Whataburger restaurant to open in Fort Smith is one of four in Arkansas and Oklahoma to be opened and managed by Fort Smith-based WAB Venture Inc., a sister company to KMAC Enterprises that has for decades managed KFC and Taco Bell restaurants in nine states.

WAB Venture will ceremonially break ground at 10 a.m., Friday (July 15) at 8120 Phoenix Ave. in Fort Smith. The site is just west of the Chambers Bank branch at the corner of Phoenix and Massard.

WAB also is working to open Whataburger stores in Poteau and Tahlequah, Okla, and in West Little Rock. Whataburger already has six Arkansas stores (two in Fayetteville, and one each in Magnolia, Rogers, Springdale and Texarkana) and 34 in Oklahoma.

The Fort Smith restaurant will open in the fall, according to WAB, and employ more than 100. The company did not disclose how many will be full- or part-time employees. Managers, according to Whataburger, make $60,000 a year.

WAB also did not disclose the investment in each store. Whataburger says it requires about $1.2 million to open a store, and a franchise applicant must have proof of $5 million in liquid assets, such as cash or cash equivalents. Whataburger also requires franchise applicants to have a net worth of at least $12.5 million.

Whataburger was founded in 1950 with a store in Corpus Christi, Texas. The company, now based in San Antonio, has more than 890 stores in 14 states and sales of more than $3 billion annually.

KMAC, founded in 1964 by Ken McGruder, operates more than 300 restaurants under the Taco Bell, KFC and Golden Corral banners. The company’s restaurants are in Arkansas, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. KMAC was acquired from Lee Equity Partners in October 2021 by Abu Dhabi-based Mubadala Capital, an asset management subsidiary of Mubadala Investment Company, one of the world’s leading sovereign investors with more than $243 billion of assets under management.