In-N-Out Burger

In-N-Out Burger
In-N-Out Burger
Type Private
Founded Baldwin Park, California (1948)
Headquarters Irvine, California, U.S.
Number of locations 258[1]
Area served California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Texas
Key people Lynsi Martinez (President)
Mark Taylor (COO)
Roger Kotch (CFO)
Revenue Estimated US$ 465 million[2]
References: Slogan: "Quality You Can Taste"

In-N-Out Burger is a regional chain of fast food restaurants with locations in the western United States. Founded in 1948 by Harry Snyder and his wife Esther, establishing the first In-N-Out burger in Baldwin Park and headquartered in Irvine, California, In-N-Out Burger has since expanded outside Southern California to the rest of the state, Arizona, Nevada, Utah and Texas. The current owner is Lynsi Martinez, the only grandchild of founders Harry and Esther Snyder. There are currently 258 locations (as of March 2011) with no location more than one day's drive from a regional distribution center. As the chain has expanded they have opened several distribution centers in addition to their original Baldwin Park location. These new distribution centers, located in Arizona (Phoenix),[3] Utah (Draper),[4] and Texas (Dallas)[5] will provide for potential future expansion to other parts of the country. The company's business practices have been noted for employee-centered personnel policies. For example, In-N-Out is one of the few fast food chains in the United States to pay its employees significantly more than state and federally mandated minimum wage guidelines – starting at $10 per hour in California, as of January 2008.[6]

The In-N-Out restaurant chain has developed a loyal customer base,[7][8][9] and has been rated as one of the top fast food restaurants in several customer satisfaction surveys.[10][11][12][13]



First generation

In-N-Out's first location was opened in Baldwin Park, CA by Harry Snyder and his wife Esther at the southwest corner of what is now the intersection of Interstate 10 and Francisquito Avenue in the Los Angeles suburb of Baldwin Park, California. According to the company's website, the Snyders had a simple plan that is still in use today: "Give customers the freshest, highest quality foods you can buy and provide them with friendly service in a sparkling clean environment."

A second In-N-Out was opened west of the intersection of Grand avenue and Arrow Highway in Covina, CA three years later. The company remained a relatively small southern California chain until the 1970s. The Snyders managed their first restaurants closely to ensure quality was maintained.[14] The chain had 18 restaurants when Harry Snyder died in 1976 at the age of 67.[15]

Second generation

In-N-Out headquarters at University Tower in Irvine

In 1976, Rich Snyder, 24 years old at the time, became the company president after his father's death. Along with his brother Guy, Rich had reportedly begun working in his father's In-N-Outs "from the ground floor" at an early age. Over the next twenty years, the chain experienced a period of rapid growth under Rich's leadership, expanding to over 90 restaurants.[16]

In 1992, In-N-Out opened its first non-southern California restaurants in Las Vegas, Nevada. Expansion then began into northern California, including the San Francisco Bay Area, while additional Las Vegas-area restaurants were added. However, after opening restaurant #93 in Fresno, California, on December 15, 1993, Rich Snyder and four other passengers died in a plane crash on approach to John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California. The charter aircraft they were on had been following a Boeing 757 in for landing, became caught in its wake turbulence, and crashed. The ensuing crash investigation led to the Federal Aviation Administration requirement for an adequate distance between heavy aircraft and following light aircraft to allow wake turbulence to diminish.

Upon Rich's death in 1993, his brother, Guy Snyder, assumed the presidency and continued the company's expansion through the 1990s, dying in 1999 from an overdose of painkillers.[8] He was only president for six years, but during this time, In-N-Out had expanded from 93 to 140 locations.[16] Esther Snyder, his mother and one of In-N-Out's original two founders, subsequently took over the presidency.

The 21st century

In-N-Out Burger sign in Norwalk, California.

Locations in Arizona were established in 2000, while other Nevada restaurants were opened in Reno, Sparks and Carson City in late 2004. In-N-Out became a huge success in these new locations. In 2007 the opening of the first restaurant in Tucson, Arizona broke company records for most burgers sold in one day along with the most sold in one week.[17] In 2008 In-N-Out expanded into a fourth state by opening a location in Washington, Utah, a suburb of St. George. By late 2009 the chain expanded into northern Utah with three new locations situated in Draper,[18] American Fork,[19] and Orem. More locations opened in the spring of 2010. The additional restaurants were built in West Valley City, West Jordan, Centerville, and Riverton. Another possible future location is Layton.

In-N-Out Burger in Frisco, TX, one of the first locations to open in Texas.

In May 2010, In-N-Out announced their expansion plans to the Dallas area. The first two Texas locations opened in Frisco and Allen on May 11, 2011. Other planned Texas locations include one in Dallas near Southern Methodist University and another in the downtown area of nearby Fort Worth later in 2011.[20] These new Texas locations required the company to build a new patty production facility and distribution center in Texas, according to company vice president Carl Van Fleet.[21]

While the company grew, it struggled to maintain its family roots. Esther Snyder died in 2006 at the age of 86 and passed the presidency to Mark Taylor, former vice president of operations. Taylor became the company's fifth president and first non-family member to hold the position, although he does have ties to the family. The company's current heiress is Lynsi Martinez, daughter of Guy and only grandchild of Esther and Harry Snyder. Martinez, who was 23 years old at her grandmother's death, will gain control of the company in stages over 12 years.[22]

Legal issues

Former executive Rich Boyd lawsuit, 2006

In 2006, a lawsuit exposed a possible family feud over the chain's corporate leadership. Richard Boyd, one of In-N-Out's vice presidents and co-trustee of two-thirds of the company stock, accused Lynsi Martinez and allied corporate executives of trying to force out Esther Snyder and attempting to fire Boyd unreasonably. Pre-empting the suit, Martinez, Snyder and Taylor appeared in a December video message to employees, telling them not to believe everything they hear.[7] The company then responded with a lawsuit of its own, alleging that Boyd had construction work done on his personal property and charged it to the company, as well as favoring contractors with uncompetitive bids.[8] Boyd was then suspended from his role as co-trustee and Northern Trust Bank of California took his place (as co-trustee) until a hearing set for May 10, 2006. However, in April the judge dismissed two of In-N-Out's claims against Boyd. A trial date of October 17, 2006, was set but never occurred, and a settlement was reached out of court.[23] Ultimately, Boyd was permanently removed from his role as an employee and co-trustee.[24]

Chadder's lawsuit, June 2007

In June 2007, the company filed suit against an American Fork, Utah, restaurant named Chadder's for trademark infringement, claiming that the "look and feel" of the restaurant too closely mimicked In-N-Out, and that the restaurant violated trademarked menu items, such as "Animal Style", "Protein Style", "Double-Double", and so forth.[25]

The company was tipped off by Utah customers contacting the customer service department asking if In-N-Out opened a location in Utah under a different name or if they were affiliated with the restaurant in any way. Several customers stated they ordered trademarked items such as Animal and Protein styles.[26]

On June 7, 2007, In-N-Out's general counsel visited the Chadders restaurant in American Fork and "viewed the premises and operations and ordered a meal not listed on its menu. He requested an 'Animal style Double-Double with Animal fries,' and his order was filled."[27] Utah District court Judge Ted Stewart issued a temporary restraining order against the look-alike. Chadder's opened another location near the Salt Lake City area and one in Provo.

In 2009, In-N-Out opened a restaurant in American Fork less than a mile from the Chadder's restaurant.[19][25][28] Per their Web site, Chadder's started selling a "Stubby Double" instead of "Double Double".[29] The Chadder's restaurants in Utah have gone out of business since In-N-Out restaurants have opened in Utah.


Animal fries

The In-N-Out menu consists of three burger varieties: hamburger, cheeseburger, and "Double-Double" (double meat/double cheese). French fries and fountain drinks are available, as well as three flavors of milkshakes. The hamburgers come with lettuce, tomato, with or without onions (the customer is asked upon ordering, and may have them fresh or grilled), and a sauce, which is called "spread" (a Thousand Island dressing variant).

Cheeseburgers and hamburger

There are, however, additional named items not on the menu, but available at every In-N-Out. These variations reside on the chain's "secret menu," though the menu is accessible on the company's web site. These variations include 3x3 (which has three patties and three slices of cheese), 4x4 (four patties and four slices of cheese), Neapolitan shakes, grilled cheese sandwich (comes with everything that the burgers come with except meat, plus two slices of melted cheese), veggie burgers (comes with everything that the burgers come with; is not an actual veggie patty, and does not come with cheese), and Animal Style, a house specialty that the company has trademarked because of its association with the chain. An Animal Style fry comes with two slices of melted cheese, spread, and grilled onions on top; Animal style burgers have mustard fried into the meat patties as they cook, and in addition to the lettuce and tomato it also includes pickles, grilled onions and extra spread.[30]

Until recently, it was a trademark of In-N-Out to accommodate burger orders of any size by adding patties at an additional cost. A particularly famous incident involving a 100x100 (100 patties, 100 slices of cheese) occurred in 2004.[31] Once word got out of the incredibly large sandwich, In-N-Out management disallowed anything larger than a 4x4.[32] However, one can order what is called a "Flying Dutchman" which consists of two meat patties and two slices of cheese by itself (no bun, condiments, or veggies).

Store design and layout

In-N-Out restaurant in Pinole, California near Interstate 80 with one drive-through lane and an indoor dining area. Note the crossed palm trees in the back.

The signature colors for In-N-Out are white, red, and yellow. The white is used for the buildings' exterior walls and the employees' basic uniform. Red is used for the buildings' roofs and the employees' aprons and hats. Yellow is used for the decorative band on the roof and iconic zig-zag in the logo. However, variations in the color scheme do occur.

The first In-N-Outs had a common design, placing the kitchen "stand" between two lanes of cars. The "front" lane is nearest the street, and the "back" lane away from the street. A metal awning provides shade for several tables for customers desiring to park and eat, but there is no indoor dining. A walk-up window faces the parking area. These restaurants store food and supplies in a separate building, and it is not uncommon for a driver to be asked to wait a moment while employees carry replenishments to the kitchen across the rear lane.

This simpler design is a popular image on In-N-Out ads and artwork, which often shows classic cars such as 1965 Mustangs and 1968 Firebirds visiting the original restaurants. The original Covina restaurant, located on Arrow Highway west of Grand Avenue, was forced to close in the early 1990s due to re-engineering and development of the area. A modern design, drive-up/dining room restaurant was built a few hundred feet away. The new building is much larger (approximately half the size of the entire lot upon which the earlier restaurant sat), and is often filled to capacity.

The famous In-N-Out Burger at the corner of Gayley and Le Conte in Westwood, Los Angeles near the UCLA campus, designed by Kanner Architects

Like many chain restaurants, newer In-N-Out restaurants are based on a set of templates or "cookie-cutter" blueprints, which are chosen based on available space and expected traffic levels. While external appearance of its buildings may vary to meet local zoning and architectural requirements, the interior floor plan and decor in most recently constructed In-N-Out restaurants is identical. However, some restaurants are designed to stand out. Notable unique In-N-Out locations include the restaurant on Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco and the restaurant in Westwood, Los Angeles.

Today's typical location has an interior layout that includes a customer service counter with registers in front of a kitchen and food preparation area. There are separate storage areas for paper goods (napkins, bags, etc.) and "dry" food goods (potatoes, buns, etc.), as well as a walk-in refrigerator for perishable goods (lettuce, cheese, spread etc.), and a dedicated meat refrigerator for burger patties. The customer area includes an indoor dining room with a combination of booths, tables, and bar-style seating. Outside seating is usually available as well, with tables and benches. Most newer restaurants contain a one-lane drive-through.

Example of In-N-Out's crossed palm trees

There are other design elements common among today's In-N-Out locations. Matching In-N-Out's California-inspired palm tree theme, palm trees are sometimes planted to form an "X" in front of the restaurants. This is an allusion to founder Harry Snyder's favorite movie, Stanley Kramer's It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, in which the characters look for a hidden treasure and find it under "the big W" made by four palm trees, with the middle two forming an "X".[33]


A typical interior with the company's motto, "Quality you can taste"

Like other fast food chains, In-N-Out uses roadside billboards that lure customers to the nearest location. Billboard ads typically display an image of the trademarked Double-Double burger. The chain uses short radio commercials, often limited to the jingle, "In-N-Out, In-N-Out. That's what a hamburger's all about." Television commercials, which are less common, feature the hamburger's visual appeal. In-N-Out seldom uses celebrities in ads, although John Cleese and John Goodman have voiced radio spots. In the past, the Snyders also sponsored Christmas music programming with voice-overs expressing the meaning of the holiday.

In addition to conventional, paid advertising, In-N-Out benefits from positive word of mouth spread by enthusiastic fans. For many years it gave customers free bumper stickers which simply said "In-N-Out Burger". (Many of these were altered to read "In-N-Out urge"). The company helps devoted customers advertise its brand by selling souvenir clothing with the In-N-Out logo.[34] Celebrity fans and free endorsements in mass media also promote the business. When Heisman Trophy winner and Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith raved about In-N-Out cheeseburgers during a press conference before the 2007 BCS National Championship Game, a senior executive said, "It does not get much better than that for us. We're kind of a small company, and we do not have any celebrity endorsers. But I think we just got the best one we could have."[35]



The In-N-Out Burger sign at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco

The burger chain has achieved widespread popularity which has led to celebration by some when brought to new locations, and the opening of a new restaurant often becomes an event.[citation needed] When one opened in Scottsdale, Arizona, there was a four-hour wait for food, and news helicopters whirled above the parking lot.[36]

The chain's image has also made it popular in more non-traditional ways. For example, In-N-Out is still considered acceptable in some areas with a strong opposition to corporate food restaurants, such as McDonald's. Local business leaders in San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf district said they opposed every other fast food chain except In-N-Out, because they wanted to maintain the flavor of family-owned, decades-old businesses in the area, with one saying locals would ordinarily "be up in arms about a fast-food operation coming to Fisherman's Wharf," but "this is different."[9] California native and Colorado Rockies player Jason Giambi would often visit In-N-Out Burger when on the West Coast with his former team, the New York Yankees. He said he tried to open an In-N-Out Burger restaurant in New York, but was unsuccessful.[37]

The chain also has fans in a number of renowned chefs including Gordon Ramsay, Thomas Keller, Julia Child, Anthony Bourdain, and Mario Batali.[38] Famous London chef/restaurateur Gordon Ramsay ate In-N-Out for the first time when taping Hell's Kitchen in Los Angeles, and it soon became one of his favorite spots for take-out.[39] Ramsay was quoted, saying about the experience: "In-N-Out burgers were extraordinary. I was so bad, I sat in the restaurant, had my double cheeseburger then minutes later I drove back round and got the same thing again to take away." [39] Thomas Keller, a fan of In-N-out, celebrated with In-N-Out burgers at the anniversary party of his restaurant, The French Laundry.[40] Keller also plans on opening his own burger restaurant inspired by his Los Angeles experience of In-N-Out.[41] Julia Child, one of the first celebrity champions on the chain, admitted to knowing every location of the restaurant between Santa Barbara and San Francisco.[42] Child also had the burgers delivered to her during a hospital stay.[40] Anthony Bourdain reportedly said that In-N-Out was his favorite fast food meal.[40] In-N-Out was one of the very few restaurant chains given a positive mention in the book Fast Food Nation. The book commended the chain for using natural, fresh ingredients, cleanliness and great treatment of employees.[citation needed]

The restaurant is mentioned several times in the cult classic The Big Lebowski.

In-N-Out Burger gained an entry in the Los Angeles Daily News ' Reader's Best of 2009 for "Best Burger."[43]

Bible references

Bible reference on the bottom of an In-N-Out drink cup
Bible reference on wrapper of an In-N-Out Double-Double

In-N-Out prints discreet references to Bible verses on their paper containers. These consist of the book, chapter and number of the verse, not the actual text of the passage, in small print on an inconspicuous area of the item. The practice began in the 1980s during Rich Snyder's presidency,[33] a reflection of the Christian beliefs held by the Snyder family:

  • Burger and cheeseburger wrappers
    Revelation 3:20—"Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me."
  • Beverage cups and replicas
    John 3:16"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
  • Milkshake cups
    Proverbs 3:5—"Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding."
  • Double-Double wrapper
    Nahum 1:7—"The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him."
  • Paper water cups (no longer in use) for customers. They are now used by employees only.
    John 14:6—"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me."
  • License plate keychain
    1 Corinthians 13:13—"And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love."

Bumper stickers

Starting in the early 1980s, the fast-food chain began offering free bumper stickers as a promotional item at many locations. The restaurant later modified the bumper sticker after customers started to make alterations on the word "burger" so that the sticker read "In-N-Out Urge."[44]

Original restaurant

The first In-N-Out restaurant that opened in 1948 was demolished when the Interstate 10 (then U.S. 70, the Ramona Freeway) West-East Freeway was built from downtown Los Angeles to the San Gabriel Valley. The freeway runs over the original location. A new restaurant was completed in 1954 near the original Baldwin Park, California location, but was closed in November 2004 and demolished on April 16, 2011 despite discussions about using it as to anchor an In-N-Out museum chronicling the origins and history of the company.[45] In-N-Out built a replacement restaurant on the other side of the freeway next to the original In-N-Out University (opened in 1984). A new In-N-Out University was built on the property. The University building houses the training department, which was moved from Irvine, California. In addition, the company restaurant was moved from In-N-Out's Baldwin Park headquarters to the new lot, which holds the restaurant and university, less than a thousand feet away.


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