Whata-rush: Local chain feeds masses Friday nights


Dozens of students crowd the Spring Branch Whataburger after the Pink Out game.

It happens every Friday night.

The staff at the Whataburger off of Highway 46 huddle around the grill, watching the home football game livestream.

As they watch the seconds tick off of the fourth quarter, they take their positions. The kitchen is stocked and ready for the masses.

It’s just past 10 p.m. The 24-hour dining room is clean, quiet, tranquil. But every staff member knows that the neon orange “W” in the sky is a beacon for famished, Whataburger-loving Ranger football fans.

Whataburger is nestled at the front of the Singing Hills shopping center, surrounded by other chains – Panda Express, Sonic, Scholtzkys, Popeyes, McDonald’s – that all close before midnight.

Emma Siebold
The Spring Branch Whataburger, located off of Highway 46 in Singing Hills, is the only 24-hour food location in the area.

“Whataburger is the only place brave enough to stay open,” said Jacy White, a senior who frequents the restaurant after home games. “The first challenge is finding a parking spot. It’s funny to see how many people you can shove in there.” 

On her first Friday night as a cashier, senior Elyssa Holman worked in a crowded lobby, shouting over the din and delivering orders.

“It’s chaotic in there,” Holman said. “Our managers assign the best person for each station.”

Every table is filled. The line squeezes past the glass entrance doors and into the parking lot. Dozens of hungry high schoolers fill the cramped dining room.

“Back in the kitchen, we’re trying to get everyone’s orders out as fast as possible,” Holman said. “Everyone’s trying to do the best they can.”

While Holman mostly sticks to the counter and dining room, senior Angie Ramos works in the kitchen. 

Everyone’s trying to do the best they can

— Elyssa Holman

“It gets pretty hectic pretty quickly,” Ramos said. “We’re constantly in a rush for about four hours. People end up getting off an hour or two later just because we don’t have the staff.”

Once guests leave for the night, cleanup is yet another feat.

“I used to close the dining room on football nights,” Ramos said. “There were always spills everywhere, trash everywhere, chairs everywhere.”

Since the breakfast menu does not open up until 11 p.m., many will stay to get the coveted Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit. 

“I think it’s a small town thing,” White said. “Sometimes they lock the door when it gets really packed, but people unlock it to let their friends in.”