As a kid growing up in south Texas, Dr. Roland Maldonado longed to celebrate his birthday at a fast food restaurant, but his mother always nixed the idea. So when the popular Houston family practitioner was asked at what trendy restaurant he wanted to celebrate his forty-mumblesomething birthday, he told friends that he wanted to keep it simple — "just a patty melt from Whataburger."
And a great idea was born.
Maldonado's friends, Edward Sanchez and Raul Diaz, broached the idea of throwing the birthday celebration at a Whataburger restaurant with James Brown, the manager of the popular Texas burger chain's location on the Southwest Freeway, across from Lakewood Church. Soon afterwards, Diaz got a call from area manager Lou Smith, who loved the idea and even welcomed guests to the restaurant on the big night, along with other Whataburger executives who also showed up to offer best wishes.
More than 70 of Maldonado's friends filled the dining room — many dressed in orange, the signature color of the Whataburger chain. Of course, everyone dined on selections from the menu, with an birthday cake with orange icing for the occasion.
Maldonado, proudly wearing a birthday sash that was a gift, agreed it was a celebration he will never forget.
Among those in the throng were Enid Sanchez, Scott Miller, Elizabeth Whitehead, Sofia van der Dys, Patti Murphy, Ryland Holmes, Brittany Zucker, Abigail and Howard Reiner, Lanny and Debbie Griffith, Glenwood Weber, Steve Henry, Iory Ortiz, John Dascoulias, Salvador Flores Gil and Therese Landa.