"As a company serving customers with many different viewpoints, we're sometimes caught in the middle on controversial issues like this one," wrote Preston Atkinson, Whataburger's president and CEO, in a policy statement July 2 on the company's website.
said that while Whataburger
supported Second Amendment gun rights, noting that he
has a concealed-weapon permit himself, the chain wanted all guests to feel comfortable in its restaurants.
"We haven't allowed the open carry of firearms in our restaurants for a long time (although we have not prohibited licensed conceal carry).
It's a business decision we made a long time ago and have stood by, and I think it's important you know why," Atkinson
"From a business standpoint, though, we have to think about how open carry impacts our 34,000+ employees and millions of customers," he
continued, adding that Whataburger
is a "gathering spot for Little League
teams, church groups and high school kids after football games."
Atkinson noted that customers and employees had told management they felt "uncomfortable being around someone with a visible firearm who is not a member of law enforcement."
From a business standpoint, Atkinson
continued, "We have to listen and value that feedback in the same way we value yours.