is a regional chain
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
In-N-Out has never franchised
, and plans to remain privately owned.
There are currently 240 locations (as of November 2009) with no
location more than one days drive from the Baldwin Park
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
more than state and federally-mandated minimum wage
guidelines – starting at $
10 per hour in California, as of
The In-N-Out restaurant chain has developed a loyal customer base,
and has been rated as one of the top fast food restaurants in
several customer satisfaction surveys.
first location was opened on October 22, 1948 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,
According to the company website, the
Snyders had a simple plan which is still in use today:
A second In-N-Out was opened in the San Gabriel Valley
three years later, and
the company remained a relatively small Southern California
chain until the
1970s. The Snyders managed their first restaurants closely to
ensure quality was maintained. Only 18 restaurants were in
existence when Harry Snyder died in 1976 at the age of 67.
Second generation and expansion
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.
In-N-Out opened its first non-Southern California restaurants in
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
, and crashed. The ensuing crash investigation led to
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
. He was only president for 6 years,
but during this time, In-N-Out had expanded from 93 to 140
locations. Esther Snyder, his mother, and one of In-N-Out's
original two founders, subsequently took over the presidency.
In-N-Out in the 21st century
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
Arizona broke company records for most burgers sold in one
day along with the most sold in one week. 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 two new locations situated in Draper and Orem.
locations are expected to open in the spring of 2010. The additional
restaurants will be built in West Jordan, West Valley City (suburbs of Salt Lake City), American Fork, and Centerville. Another possible future location is Layton.
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
, 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
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. 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. 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. Ultimately, Boyd was permanently removed from his role as an
employee and co-trustee.
Chadder's lawsuit, June 2007
In-N-Out soon became involved in yet another lawsuit. 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.
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.
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.
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.
In-N-Out has applied to construct a restaurant in American Fork
less than a mile from the Chadder's restaurant.
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
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. 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.
Store design and layout
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.
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 palm trees crossed in an
'X' that can be found in front of many In-N-Out Burger
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 a cross shape 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
in which individuals look for a hidden treasure and
find it under "the big W" made by four palm trees, with the middle
two forming an 'X'.
In-N-Out has a dedicated fanbase, and benefits highly from the
positive word of mouth
spread by its
enthusiastic following. The company assists their fans in
propagating its iconic label by displaying In-N-Out clothing in
every store, which is readily available online, something unique
for a fast food chain
. The chain has many celebrity fans (see
below), and enjoys a variety of free endorsements from the media
. When Heisman
winner and Ohio
State quarterback Troy Smith
into a passionate description of the restaurant at the BCS National Championship
podium, Executive Vice President Carl Van Fleet was quoted
as saying, "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".
chose an animal-style
burger as his 'death-row' meal when he appeared on The Hour
Like other chains, In-N-Out uses billboards strategically located
on roads leading to individual restaurants, with relevant
information such as distance to the restaurant and driving
directions. These ads commonly feature the recognizable image of a
Double-Double. In keeping with their image, commercials are usually
understated and straight-forward. Radio commercials are common in
some areas. The commercials are short, and are generally limited to
a characteristic jingle: "In-N-Out, In-N-Out. That's what a
hamburger's all about." Television commercials are less common.
When the ads do appear, the visual appeal of the hamburger is
generally the sole focus. In-N-Out very rarely relies on
spokespersons or actors for its commercials, although at one time
and John Goodman
voiced radio spots. In the past,
the Snyders also sponsored Christmas music programming and gave
voice-overs expressing the meaning of the holiday.
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. When one opened in
Arizona, there was a four-hour wait for food, and news
helicopters whirled above the parking lot.
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
. Local business
leaders in San
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."
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. California native
and Colorado Rockies
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.
Famous London chef/restaurateur Gordon
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. 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.In-N-Out was one of the very few restaurant chains given a
positive mention in the book Fast
. The book commended the chain for using
natural, fresh ingredients, cleanliness and great treatment of
In-N-Out Burger has also gained an entry in the Los Angeles Daily News
' Reader's Best
of 2009 for "Best Buger" .
Bible reference on wrapper of an
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, a reflection of the beliefs held by the
- 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
- 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."
- :Proverbs 3:5—"Trust in the
LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own
- :Nahum 1:7—"The LORD is good,
a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust
- 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."
- :1 Corinthians 13:13—"And now
faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these
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
The freeway runs over the original location.
store was completed in 1954 and the structure still stands in
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
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.