In-N-Out Burger: Wikis


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In-N-Out Burger
Type Private
Founded Baldwin Park, California (1948)
Headquarters Irvine, California, U.S.
Area served California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah
Key people Lynsi Martinez (President)
Mark Taylor (COO)
Roger Kotch (CFO)
Revenue Estimated US$ 216.8 million (2007)[1]
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, and headquartered in Irvine, California, In-N-Out Burger has since expanded outside Southern California to the rest of the state, and to Arizona, Nevada, and Utah.[2] In-N-Out has never franchised, and plans to remain privately owned.[3] There are currently 240 locations (as of November 2009) with no location more than one day's drive from the Irvine headquarters. The company's business practices have been noted for employee-centric 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.[4]

The In-N-Out restaurant chain has developed a loyal customer base,[5][6][7] and has been rated as one of the top fast food restaurants in several customer satisfaction surveys.[8][9][10][11]



First generation

In-N-Out's first location was opened in Baldwin Park, by Harry Snyder and his wife [Esther Snyder] 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 in the San Gabriel Valley 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.[12] The chain had 18 restaurants when Harry Snyder died in 1976 at the age of 67.[13]

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 stores.[3]

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 store #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 followed a Boeing 757 in for landing, became caught in its wake turbulence, and crashed. The ensuing crash investigation led to the FAA 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. Then in 1999, Guy Snyder died from an overdose of the pain-killer Vicodin.[6] He was only president for 6 years, but during this time, In-N-Out had expanded from 93 to 140 locations.[3] 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 fall 2004. In-N-Out became a huge success in these new locations. In 2007, the opening of the first store in Tucson, Arizona broke company records for most burgers sold in one day along with the most sold in one week.[14] 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,[15] American Fork,[16], and Orem. More locations are expected to open in the spring of 2010. The additional restaurants will be built in West Valley City, West Jordan, and Centerville. Another possible future location is Layton.[17][18]

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 outsider 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 Harry and Esther Snyder. Martinez, who was 23 years old at her grandmother's death, will gain control of the company in stages over 12 years.[19]

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.[5] 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.[6] 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.[20] Ultimately, Boyd was permanently removed from his role as an employee and co-trustee.[21]

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.[22]

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.[23]

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.[24] Utah District court Judge Ted Stewart issued a temporary restraining order against the look-alike, but the issue has yet to be definitively resolved. Chadder's has opened another location near the Salt Lake area and one in Provo; In-N-Out has not responded to this action.[24]

In-N-Out recently opened a restaurant in American Fork less than a mile from the Chadder's restaurant.[22][25][16] Per their website, Chadder's now sells a "Stubby Double" instead of "Double Double."


In-N-Out has a limited menu consisting of only three different burgers: the 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," and is similar to Thousand Island dressing with a mayonnaise base.

There are, however, additional named items that are not on the menu, but are 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.[26] These variations include 3x3 (which has three patties and three slices of cheese), 4x4 (like the 3x3 but with four patties and four slices of cheese), Neapolitan shakes, grilled cheese sandwich (comes with everything that the burgers come with, 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. By adding patties at an additional cost, one could conceivably create a burger of any size; 100x100 burgers have even been ordered before. Recently In-N-Out limited the burger sizes to only go up to 4x4s in order to maintain burger quality. A Flying Dutchman is two meat patties with 2 pieces of cheese in between; it does not come with a bun but is presented as is. Protein style is when the burgers are wrapped in lettuce in place of the bun. Customers can order additional items on their burgers aside from the normal ones, including chopped chilies, whole grilled onions (a full slice of raw onion that is grilled), ketchup, mustard, pickles, and raw chopped onions.[27]

Store design and layout

In-N-Out restaurant in Pinole, California with one drive-through lane and an indoor dining area

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. In these stores, storage of food and supplies is 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 stores. The original Covina store, 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 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 stores are based on a set of templates or "cookie-cutter" blueprints, which are chosen based on available space and expected traffic levels. However, some stores are designed to be unique to fit into the surrounding architecture, or to stand out. Notable "unique" In-N-Out locations include the store on Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco, the restaurant in Westwood, Los Angeles and the restaurant in Santa Clarita, north of Los Angeles.

Today's typical location has an interior layout which 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 stores. 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".[28]


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

Like other fast food chains, In-N-Out uses roadside billboards that lead 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 wich 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.[29] 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 from the podium of 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."[30] When celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay appeared on The Hour, a Canadian TV talk show, he chose an animal style In-N-Out burger to his "death-row" last meal.[citation needed]



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.[2]

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."[7] The chain has vocal celebrity fans which leads to publicity in news articles on them, and has also been featured in movies. In Swingers, Jon Favreau's character, Mikey, is seen sporting an In-N-Out t-shirt. The chain is also mentioned in The Big Lebowski, and the main characters eat In-N-Out burgers while driving in one scene. New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees mentioned during an interview segment on The Jay Leno Show that In-N-Out Burger is his favorite fast food chain. 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.[31] 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.[32] New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin ordered lunch for the entire team from In-N-Out Burgers during the week prior to Super Bowl XLII. Golfer Phil Mickelson has also been know to be a huge fan of the restaurant, and even mentioned the chain in his book. 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.

In-N-Out Burger has also gained an entry in the Los Angeles Daily News'' Reader's Best of 2009 for "Best Burger" [sic].[33]

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 utensils. The print is small and out of the way, and only contains the book, chapter and verse numbers, not the actual text of the passages. The practice began in the 1980s during Rich Snyder's presidency,[28] a reflection of the 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 dine 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 for thirsty employees.
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."

Original restaurant

The first In-N-Out restaurant that opened in 1948 was demolished when the Interstate 10 West-East Freeway was built from downtown Los Angeles to the San Gabriel Valley. The freeway runs over the original location. A new store was completed in 1954 and the structure still stands in Baldwin Park, California but was closed in November 2004 and future plans for the store are in development. Among the ideas are an In-N-Out museum chronicling the origins and history of the company. In-N-Out built a replacement store 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 store was moved from In-N-Out's Baldwin Park headquarters, less than a mile away to the new lot which holds the store and university.


  1. ^ "In-N-Out". 
  2. ^ a b Tom McNichol (2002-08-14). "The Secret Behind A Burger Cult". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-07-21. 
  3. ^ a b c "History". Retrieved 2008-11-01. 
  4. ^ Steve Rubenstein (2001-08-15). "Chain reaction/San Francisco job applicants come by the dozen to interview for jobs at a new In-N-Out restaurant / $9.25 per hour plus meal". The San Francisco Gate. Retrieved 2006-08-07. 
  5. ^ a b John Pomfre (2006-01-30). "In Calif., Internal Lawsuits Served Up at Burger Chain". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2006-08-06. 
  6. ^ a b c Amanda Bronstad (2005-12-05). "In-n-Out burned by exec's lawsuit". Los Angeles Business Journal. Retrieved 2006-08-06. 
  7. ^ a b "In-N-Out Burger Beefs Up the Wharf Chain's followers now have S.F. site". The San Francisco Gate. 2001-03-03. Retrieved 2006-08-06. 
  8. ^ Raymund Flandez (2009-01-28). "In-N-Out Burger vs. McDonald’s: Guess Who Won?". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2009-01-28. "Consumers rate regional food chains above national fast-food chains in overall customer experience, according to a recent survey by Sandelman & Associates, a San Clemente, Calif., market research and consumer-trends firm." 
  9. ^ Allison Perlik (2008-09-15). "Consumers' Choice in Chains: Votes of Confidence". Restaurants & Institutions. Retrieved 2009-01-28. 
  10. ^ "Zagat Surveys Nation's Fast Food". June 8, 2009. 
  11. ^ Frank Pellegrini (2000-08-31). "Restaurant Review: The In-N-Out Burger". Time.,8599,53002,00.html. Retrieved 2008-11-01. 
  12. ^ "Marketplace: What sets burger chain In-N-Out apart". May 7, 2009. 
  13. ^ "Esther Snyder, In-N-Out Burger Founder, Dies at 86". The New York Times. August 13, 2006. Retrieved April 4, 2008. 
  14. ^ "In-N-Out Burger's all-stars set record with Tucson opening". 2007-06-15. 
  15. ^ "Famous IN-N-OUT coming to Draper".,5143,705284759,00.html. 
  16. ^ a b "In-N-Out coming to American Fork". 2009-02-19. 
  17. ^ "IN-N-OUT continues expansion". 
  18. ^ "Layton likely to get 22 new businesses". 
  19. ^ Maio, Pat (August 14, 2006). "In-N-Out Options Are Many: Steady Growth vs. Private Equity, IPO". Orange County Business Journal. Retrieved 18 January 2010. 
  20. ^ "In-N-Out ordered to alter some claims in lawsuit". Money. 2006-08-06. 
  21. ^ "In-N-Out, former VP reach secretive settlement". 2006-08-06. 
  22. ^ a b "In-N-Out wins one over Chadders". 2007-06-30.,1249,680195270,00.html. 
  23. ^ "In-N-Out Burger sues American Fork Restaurant". 2007-06-18. 
  24. ^ a b "In-N-Out Burgers v. Chadders Restaurant et al.". 2007-06-29. 
  25. ^ "In-N-Out Burger Suing American Fork Burger Joint". 2007-06-19.,3566,284334,00.html. 
  26. ^ "The In-N-Out secret menu". 
  27. ^ "A 100x100 at In-N-Out". 
  28. ^ a b Savio, Kelly (2006-08-09). "The Ins and Outs of In-N-Out". Gilroy Dispatch. 
  29. ^ Pellegrini, Frank (August 21, 2000). "Restaurant Review: The In-N-Out Burger". Time.,8599,53002,00.html. Retrieved January 10, 2010. 
  30. ^ Briggs, David (January 8, 2007). "Smith Stays In, Buckeyes Worth Big Bucks". The Lantern. Retrieved January 10, 2010. 
  31. ^ "". 
  32. ^ Jill Scott (20 April 2008). "Gordon Ramsay admits secret passion for fast food burgers". 
  33. ^ "Best Burger - In-N-Out Burger [Best Burger]". Daily News Reader's Best (Los Angeles Daily News): 28. 2009. 

Further reading

External links

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