March 12, 2014

In-N-Out: "When you start adding things, it gets worse"


The History of In-N-Out Burger
Harry’s son Rich had worked in the restaurants all of his life and assumed the role of company president at the young age of 24 following his father’s passing. During his tenure, the chain experienced unprecedented growth, opening over 90 restaurants through the 80s and 90s. But while business was booming, In-N-Out still remained firmly grounded in southern California, and against the franchising model. Rich believed that outsourcing the brand purely for accelerated growth was tantamount to “prostituting his parents”. “There is money to be made by doing those things” he said, “but you lose something, and I don’t want to lose what I was raised with all my life”.


His resolution to maintain the simple menu devised by his parents was equally strong, which he made clear to Forbes in 1989, saying “it’s hard enough to sell burgers, fries and drinks right. And when you start adding things, it gets worse”. A lemon-lime soda would be the only exception during his tenure as president."


Posted by gerardvanderleun at March 12, 2014 10:48 PM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

I see a class action lawsuit in the making to make them franchise and expand nationwide. We in the other 49½ states are being deprived of a fundamental civil right, and maybe a basic human right - a good burger.

Posted by: BillH at March 13, 2014 6:57 AM

Feminists will be up in arms for suggesting a quick In n' Out.

Posted by: Vermont Woodchuck at March 13, 2014 7:14 AM

We don't have In N' Out...we have Frisko Freeze. Good enough for me.

Posted by: Mumblix Grumph at March 13, 2014 7:30 AM

He is right. I worked at McD's in 1970 and the menu was simple, and FAST. ALWAYS, no exceptions, and the manager was right there making sure. If the employee couldn't cut it HE was cut. Yes, HE. No females worked there.

Now, the menu is arduous, and service takes all day, and the employees are of every mix you can imagine and they are people you normally wouldn't allow to cut your grass. I seldom attend those places.

I agree with BillH.

Posted by: ghostsniper at March 13, 2014 8:37 AM

I had some of the bumper stickers. Wish I'd kept one or two uncut.

Posted by: Mike James at March 13, 2014 8:56 AM

Thankfully there's one right up the street. And right across the parking lot is a Habit Burger. It's good too. A California embarrassment of riches.

Posted by: Glenn at March 13, 2014 12:47 PM

Thankfully there's one right up the street. And right across the parking lot is a Habit Burger. It's good too. A California embarrassment of riches.

Posted by: Glenn at March 13, 2014 12:47 PM

I grew up in Wisconsin. The founder of Culver's was at the movie theater getting popcorn when a friend and I watched Hunger Games. Extraordinarily nice.

Posted by: Notquiteunbuckley at March 13, 2014 4:29 PM

My home cooked burger is so very superior to the best of In & Out, Five Guys, etc., that it'd be shameful to beat them with the comparison.

But, for the right amount of money, I'd let 'em have a sample, and for even more cashola, I'd sell 'em the recipe. It's an absurdly easy thing, with no exotic ingredients, but it does take some skill and close attention to get the right results off of the grill.

I had 'em for dinner tonight. Succulent. Juicy. Flavorful beyond compare.

What's that old saying? "It ain't braggin' if you can do it." I ain't braggin', and if you're in the area, I'd be honored to prove it!

Sunk New Dawn
Galveston, TX

Posted by: Jim at March 13, 2014 6:59 PM

If you're with a gaggle of kids in SoCal, they will always vote for "In-N-Out." Everything else is a dreary let-down also-ran. When I go there, everybody who works there is always smiling and cheerful and look like they are having a jolly good time. They love their job. That's what I keep telling my son. "Look at all these happy people, happy and smiling and putting money in their pockets. Wouldn't you like to be one of these people? Hint hint, nudge nudge, wink wink." And every restaurant is always mobbed, all day long. The drive-in line snakes around the block, and an In-N-Out employee walks the line and takes your order with a wireless gizmo and a smile. Whatever it is, In-N-Out has it in bucketfuls.

Posted by: John A. Fleming at March 13, 2014 10:01 PM

I don't like the constant need to add new crap to the menu that fast food joints are constantly engaging in. 99% of the time its crap that doesn't last, and ever 1% of the time you get chicken nuggets. I get that these guys are run by a board and they demand a bigger market share and more profits every year or they declare it failure, but really, just do your job well and stick with what you do well.

Jack In The Box is exhibit A of this: we have everything on the menu and almost all of it is awful. How can you screw up a taco so badly?

And speaking of Tacos, Taco Bell, which has lines around the block in every single franchise I've ever seen, somehow seems to believe it needs more customers and puts out some new idiotic menu item about every month. The Sporrito! Its a taco, on its side, wrapped in tater tots! The Costada! Its a burrito, but with dorito flavored wrap dipped in melted cheese-like substance! Just... stop.

Posted by: Christopher Taylor at March 14, 2014 11:20 AM

Next time you drive past a White Castle notice the parking lot - it is vacant. They need to reassess their business model because it is being outdated. Due to inflation and other gov't dallyings everybody is offering sliders now so WC's market share is dwindling fast.

Posted by: ghostsniper at March 14, 2014 12:48 PM

ghost: I didn't realize that. We don't have White Castles here in NM, I don't think they are popular west of the Mississippi, shrug.

Keeping it simple is the way to success:

Friedolf and Sons Shoelace Wash, and The House of Toast.

Posted by: chasmatic at March 14, 2014 3:23 PM

What In-N-Out does -- interestingly -- is pay the market wage for an American teen. In other words, they pay what the market would bear if we hadn't flooded the labor market with "undocumented workers." Even the restaurants in La Puente or Santa Ana (not great neighborhoods, for the non-natives here) are stuffed full of A-student, over-achiever types. In the early 90's, they were paying $10-12 per hour, IIRC.

Posted by: el baboso at March 14, 2014 6:21 PM

All the girls I've ever taken to any of these fast-food joints have secretly confided they prefer the In-n-Out Footlong franchise, with an hour or so delay.

Posted by: Jersey Jehu at March 14, 2014 10:08 PM

@chas, nothing like cornering a niche in the market.

Posted by: ghostsniper at March 15, 2014 6:27 AM

You sure about the no franchising? I ate at an In-n-Out Burger in Dallas last summer.

Posted by: Snackeater at March 15, 2014 1:43 PM

There are now In-N-Out restaurants all over North Texas. All are 100% owned and operated by the company; they are not franchise locations. The company built its own packing plant and commissary here in order to continue its no-frozen-beef policy and to make sure that all ingredients are fresh.

Posted by: B Lewis at March 16, 2014 7:24 AM