How In-N-Out Burger Sizzled Its Way To The Top

Harry Snyder and his wife Esther Snyder established In-N-Out Burger in Baldwin Park, California in 1948. The chain currently operates out of Irvine California in five states including California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah and Texas. Lynsi Snyder, the only grandchild of the Snyders currently runs the company, which employs approximately 18,000 staff in 290 locations.

The company has developed a cult-like following and has been rated as one of the top fast food restaurants in customer satisfaction. At the same time, it has resisted franchising or going public. This allows it to control quality, which is a major defining company policy.

All locations are less than a day’s drive from a regional distribution center and this allows the chain to maintain high quality food offerings. In the early days, Mr. Snyder laid the foundation for high quality control in his company by personally inspecting every beef pattie sold to customers. Today, the company pays a premium for high-quality beef chucks, employs in-house butchers and makes every 100% pure beef hamburger pattie with no additives, fillers or preservatives.

Everything on the menu is made with the utmost care. For example, fries are individually cut in stores and cooked in 100% pure, cholesterol-free vegetable oil and milkshakes are made with real ice cream.

In-N-Out Burger serves a handful of items on its published menu. These menu items include the double double, cheeseburger, hamburger, French fries, shakes and beverages. The company also provides a not-so-secret menu that features double meat, 4×4, protein style (pattie wrapped in lettuce), 3×3, grilled cheese and animal style (patties cooked in mustard).

The company is known for creating a family-type atmosphere for its valued employees. Employees are paid more than state and federal minimum wage guidelines. At April 2013, employees in California were paid US$10.50 per hour.

The following outlines a brief company history,


Harry Snyder introduced California’s first drive-thru hamburger stand in Baldwin Park. Soon after, Mr. Snyder created a two-way speaker box designed to allow customers to order over box.


The iconic In-N-Out arrow appears in replacement of the original “No Delay” sign.


Marks the 10th anniversary with five Southern California restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley and fountain service replaces soda bottles.


The Animal Style burger is created in response to customer requests and innovative hand-cut lap mats are created for guests to use to eat in their cars.


The company opens a new patty-making facility.


The first collectible glass is created for promotions featuring character, movie and holiday themes.


Butcher paper lap mats are replaced with printed mats offering helpful information to customers.


Planting crossed palm trees in front of most locations begins.


The company celebrates its 25th Anniversary with a new warehouse in Baldwin Park and 13 restaurants open in Los Angeles County. Every restaurant has two lanes for drive-thru customers, no dining room, and often a handful of small tables outside for guests.


The first cookout event takes place. Today, more than 10 cookout trucks serve schools, churches, charities, weddings, birthdays and concerts.


Milkshakes are added to the menu and the first t-shirt is designed for sale.


Harry Snyder passes away.


The first dining room restaurant opens and restaurant #21 in Ontario becomes In-N-Out’s first single drive-lane location. After this only 13 more restaurants were built without a dining room.


In-N-Out University opens in Baldwin Park where training of entry-level managers is conducted.


The Company store opens in Baldwin Park that sells selective merchandise.


The 80th store opens in Las Vegas, which marks the first time the company ventures outside California.


The 50th anniversary is marked with 134 restaurants.


Store #143 opens in Arizona.


The first restaurant opens in Utah. The company is 60 years old and operates in California, Nevada, Arizona and Utah.


Harry and Esther’s granddaughter Lynsi leads In-N-Out.


First two restaurants open in Texas.


A replica of In-N-Out Burger’s original drive-thru restaurant is created in Baldwin Park, California.


On Sept 11, In-N-Out Burger opened up a pop-up location in Toronto. Demand was high as customers had to compete to secure wristbands to attend the single-day event. The company has created pop-up shops around the world and in Western Canada, but this marks the first time it has ventured as far east as Toronto within Canada.

The company likely set up shop for the day in Toronto since the Toronto International Film Festival was being held in town and it offered Hollywood folk a chance to grab their In-N-Out burgers.

In spite of the pop-up shop, there is no indication that the company will be opening up any restaurants in Canada any time soon. The company has remained relatively small for a fast food chain since its inception 66 years ago.

It is considered an upscale, boutique-style hamburger place that is similar to Fat Burger and Five Guys, which have invaded Canada. Will In-N-Out continue to expand in the U.S. and into Canada? That remains to be seen. But for now, the company still revels in its successful mix of high quality and innovative offerings that focus on a customer and employee-centered approach.



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