Ed Johnson of El Paso, Texas, absolutely loves Whataburger. He goes every morning for breakfast to order the same thing: a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit with a coffee.
But when he showed up on his 80th birthday with his granddaughter on the way home from her swim practice, he got a special surprise.
The employees had gotten him balloons and a large vanilla cake celebrating their “#1 customer.”
“He was crying. He was so happy,” Johnson’s granddaughter, Emma Carr, told ABC News. “They all sang to him and told him, ‘Happy birthday.’ It was a really sweet moment.”
Carr said her grandpa has been lonely since his wife died in April of 2016, so he has befriended the staff.
“After she passed away, he moved into an apartment literally around the corner from this Whataburger,” Carr, 18, explained. “He was really lonely and did his best to get out of the house to make friends, so he’d come to Whataburger. He’s a natural extrovert and instantly made friends. There’s a group of regulars that come here all the time and they always meet. He made friends with all the workers as well. He considers every single member of the staff a part of his family. He loves them and they love him.”
Johnson said his late wife, Lola, wasn’t a big fan of fast food because “she liked to do her own cooking."
But after her death, he said his regular breakfast order helped him connect with other people.
“I drive up at the Whataburger and my food is ready before I even get up to the register to pay for it,” he said. “The lady that does most of the cooking, if I don’t show up by a certain time, she starts asking the other staff where I am.”
Carr's photos of the touching surprise for her grandpa quickly went viral on social media, and the burger chain even weighed in on Twitter.
We hope he had a great birthday!— Whataburger® (@Whataburger) July 25, 2017
“Oh, Lord. It’s been amazing,” Johnson said of his newfound fame. “I’m still in shock, and more so every day.”
Carr said there wasn’t a dry eye in the restaurant on her grandpa's birthday.
“I cried, he cried, everyone cried,” she said. “It was a really special moment because he’s super humble and puts everyone above himself. It made me really happy and made my heart warm that he had people looking out for him and taking care of him the way he’s taken care of his family for the past 80 years.”