Of all the burger chains in America, the one with arguably the biggest cult following may be In-N-Out Burger. There are just under 300 locations of the beloved West Coast chain, and while loyal devotees might think that they know everything there is to know about the inventor of the Double Double Animal-Style, there are still plenty of things non-devotees may not know.
The first In-N-Out, a small stand with just enough room to prepare the burgers, opened in 1948 in Baldwin Park, Calif. Founders Harry and Esther Snyder had a novel idea: Allow customers to drive directly up to the restaurant, order through a two-way speaker box, and be handed their meal without even getting out of their car. The original stand was demolished years ago in order to construct a freeway.
In 1951, a second In-N-Out Burger opened, and by the time that Harry Snyder passed away in 1976, there were 18 locations. His sons Rich and Guy took over, each continuing to expand the chain while maintaining the strict quality and cleanliness levels that Harry implemented. 93 locations were open by the time Guy passed away in 1993, and there were 140 when Rich passed away in 1999.
Today, the chain is run by Guy’s daughter, 31-year-old Lynsi Torres (née Snyder), and while she keeps a low profile, she’s doing a great job of carrying on her grandfather’s company. Her commitment to not change anything about the company has paid out in dividends, as the no-frills menu of burgers, fries, and shakes prepared with the freshest ingredients has bucked trends like breakfast, which just about every other chain is currently serving.
While In-N-Out might seem rather no-frills from the outside with its super-simple menu and speedy service, there are still a few tricks up the chain’s sleeve that you might not know about. Read on to learn five things that you didn’t know about In-N-Out.
1. There are no franchises
Just about every fast food chain is excited to sell off franchises to prospective restaurateurs and let them handle managing the location but for Torres, franchising means one less thing under company control. The only real way to make sure that every location is 100 percent up to company standards is to make them all company-owned, and that’s exactly what she’s done.
2. Lynsi Torres is the youngest American female billionaire
Due to a string of untimely family deaths, the 31-year-old Torres is now the sole owner of the chain, which is worth about $1 billion. The company’s wealth is controlled by a trust, which granted her half of the company when she turned 30, and she’ll get the other half when she’s 35.
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3. All Locations Need to be Near Distribution Centers
Ever wonder why all the locations are near the West Coast or the Southwest? Because there are just two distribution centers, one in Baldwin Park, Calif. and the other in Dallas, Texas and all locations need to be within the distance that a truck can travel in one day. Fresh ingredients (including ground chuck for the burgers) are all prepped at these centers, and proximity means that nothing ever needs to be frozen. So if you want an In-N-Out in New York, pray for an East Coast distribution center.
4. There’s an Exact Replica of the Original
The first location of the chain was demolished many years ago, but a near-exact replica was unveiled earlier this year, complete with antique kitchen equipment, and it’s become a major tourist attraction.
5. There are Several Locations with no Drive-Thru
Even though the chain is widely credited with having invented the drive-thru, there are three California locations that don’t have one: Placentia, Laguna Hills, and Glendale.