Esther L. Snyder, who with her husband founded the iconic West Coast restaurant chain In-N-Out Burger, died Friday. She was 86.
The family declined to release further details including the cause of death, said Bob Emmers of Sitrick and Company, which handles public relations for the chain.
Esther and Harry Snyder opened the first In-N-Out drive-through stand in Baldwin Park in 1948. In-N-Out now has 202 restaurants in California, Arizona and Nevada.
The Snyders'business plan was simple: Serve fresh burgers in a"two-way speaker"drive-through concept. While her husband ran the day-to-day operations, Snyder was in charge of the books and occasionally helped out in the kitchen by molding meat patties by hand and slicing tomatoes and onions.
"Mrs. Snyder showed us all how to be a great leader and businessperson,"said Mark Taylor, In-N-Out vice president of operations, who will succeed Snyder as president."She expected hard work from associates and in return she believed in rewarding them well and treating them as members of one family."
Snyder grew up in Sorento, Ill., and graduated from Seattle Pacific University with a zoology degree in 1947. She met her future husband while working as a manager in a Seattle restaurant.
The couple had two children, Guy and Rich, who ran the company at different times. When Harry Snyder died in 1976, Rich Snyder took charge of the burger chain. After Rich Snyder died in a 1993 plane crash, Guy Snyder led the company with his mother until his death six years later of an accidental drug overdose.
Snyder was reported to be in poor health according to a January lawsuit that accused Snyder's granddaughter of attempting to engineer a coup to force her out.
In-N-Out attorney Arnold Wensinger said the suit contained inaccuracies. It was settled in May, but the terms were not disclosed.
Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.