Fans of In-N-Out have been begging the chain for years to open restaurants on the East Coast.
The fast-food chain, which is based on the West Coast, has slowly expanded eastward over its 70-year lifetime to Nevada, Arizona, Utah, and more recently to Houston, Texas. The company has also been holding “pop-up shops” around the world, where burgers tend to sell out within minutes.
All signs seemingly point to a plan for expansion.
But four major factors make it highly unlikely that East Coasters will get to experience the joy of an In-N-Out in their neighbourhood anytime soon.
1. Quality control: There are no freezers or microwaves in In-N-Out restaurants because the company has a strict policy of serving its food fresh. Therefore, all locations must be within 300 miles of the company’s distribution facilities.
“At In-N-Out Burger, we make all of our hamburger patties ourselves and deliver them fresh to all of our restaurants with our own delivery vehicles,” In-N-Out vice president of planning and development Carl Van Fleet told Business Insider in a previous interview. “Nothing is ever frozen. Our new restaurant locations are limited by the distance we can travel from our patty-making facilities and distribution centres.”
2. Exclusivity: Everything has more appeal when it’s not available to everyone, and the exclusivity of In-N-Out has helped the restaurant gain such a rabid following of fans.
In response to pleading from a local politician for an In-N-Out to open in Denver, Van Fleet made it clear the company was not planning to expand farther east.
“You continue to give us the biggest compliment possible with your efforts to interest us in Colorado,” he wrote in a letter obtained by The Denver Post. “That said, at this time, we’re still not looking to add a sixth state and we’re just focusing our growth efforts in the five states where we currently operate.”
Since then, In-N-Out has expanded to Oregon — which is the chain’s sixth state of operation.
3. Competition: The East Coast has numerous burger joints that would offer tough competition for In-N-Out, including Shake Shack and Five Guys.
4. No franchising: In-N-Out President Lynsi Snyder has said the company will “never” go public or franchise its restaurants.
“The only reason we would do that is for the money, and I wouldn’t do it,”Snyder told CBS.
“My heart is totally connected to this company because of my family, and the fact that they are not here — I have a strong tie to keep this the way they would want it.”
A large-scale expansion without franchising would require a massive amount of up-front capital from the company.
“In-N-Out remains privately owned and the Snyder family has no plans to take the company public or franchise any units,” the company reaffirms on its website.