In-N-Out Burger Lands in Texas

Discussion
Jun 02, 2011
Tom Ryan

In-N-Out Burger, the Southern California institution, opened its first stores in Texas to long lines, media hysteria and a few murmurings over what the fuss was all about.

A few hundred people, many California transplants, either camped out the night before or got in line early at both the new Frisco and Allen locations in North Texas that opened on May 11.

"Our openings are always big, but I have never seen anything of this magnitude," Frisco Store Manager Scott Bayliss, who moved from California to manage the restaurant, told the Plano Star Courier. "At 10 a.m. we had cars lined up 150 deep in the drive-through line."

In-N-Out burgers are made with 100 percent fresh beef that’s never frozen and they don’t use microwaves. In order to keep to its fresh beef code, a meat patty processing plant as well as distribution center were opened in the Dallas area.

It’s also known for its limited menu that includes three types of burgers, french fries (fresh cut), and beverages, including three shake flavors. It’s also known for its "secret menu" ordering system. For instance, "Animal Style" means pickles, extra spread, grilled onions and mustard fried onto each meat patty. With about 260 restaurants in California, Arizona, Nevada and Utah, Texas represents only its fifth state since its founding 1948.

"It’s really a turning point for this area," Los Angeles-raised Kip Cummings told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "The California spirit hits right here and begins to get entrenched. It’s very much a milestone."

In-N-Out Burger is planning at least seven more locations in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and an article speculated that the new distribution and meat processing center will enable In-N-Out to move as far north as Iowa and as far east as Florida to offer serious competition to McDonald’s and other fast food chains. At the same time, In-N-Out Burger is known for its slow expansion stance. It’s taken three years for to open eight restaurants in Utah.

Not everyone was blown away.

Michael Hamtil, Dallas Morning News‘ photo editor, said people similarly lined up when IKEA opened in 2005 and now it’s "just another big box store in Frisco."

In-N-Out also faces hometown competition from Whataburger, based in San Antonio.

"Whataburger is bigger, juicier, and their fries are better," Jesse Rede told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, after his first In-N-Out experience. "I’d come back, but it’s not worth all the hype."

Discussion Questions: Does In-N-Out Burger risk losing its cult-like devotion as it expands? What is the expansion potential for In-N-Out Burger as it explores more eastern states?

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11 Comments on "In-N-Out Burger Lands in Texas"


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David Livingston
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

I think In-N-Out Burger will do just fine and not lose its cult-like devotion. This is a small expansion into a contiguous state. I remember a few years ago a Krispy Kreme expanded into Wisconsin. The drive-thru lines at grand opening were a half mile long. A year or two later they are dead all the time and finally pulled out. They were supposed to have a cult following but certainly not here. They just expanded too fast. In-N-Out seems to be taking small baby steps which is a more realistic approach.

Dick Seesel
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

In-N-Out will probably gladly sacrifice its cult-like status for the opportunity to expand nationally. The bigger challenge will be to develop the sort of brand loyalty and repeat business that made it successful in the first place. Clearly the food quality (fresh beef) goes hand-in-hand with the sort of infrastructure needs described in the article, which should require a pattern of slow, controlled growth.

Meanwhile, other “cult” burger chains (Sonic, Culvers) have their eyes on Texas and other expansion markets. Each has its own competitive advantage, so In-N-Out will need to be on its toes to turn opening hype into long-term revenue.

Al McClain
Guest
Al McClain
9 years 11 months ago

Having never tasted an In-N-Out burger, I’m guessing they will do fine in Texas, as it’s certainly a big fast food and meat eating state. Over the longer term, however, I wonder when the ‘burger bubble’ will burst as it seems that a new burger chain opens or expands on a daily basis and restaurants are all scrambling to capitalize on the current burger mania.

Anne Bieler
Guest
Anne Bieler
9 years 11 months ago

In-N-Out can grow in other locations like Texas. Site selection is critical of course, and the promotion seems right, but the critical next step is developing an understanding of potential, and how the test stores are “really doing” during the early stages. It seems that the indications of whether new ideas catch on – or miss the boat are visible early on, but the right review systems to monitor and adjust as needed must be well supported. A number of new market expansions have seemed promising, but in the end didn’t deliver – from execution to site selection or timing. Good luck to them!

Steve Montgomery
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

I am not sure that In-N-Out Burger will lose any of it cult like status in the states it operates in but as it is finding in Texas there are other “local” burger chains that have developed their own following. As noted in the article, the company is noted for its slow pace of expansion and that approach has and will likely continue to serve it well. I-N-O Burger is not attempting to be one of the big three.

Many regional products who have that cult following find it difficult when they expand beyond their traditional area. The same could be said for Coors when it first became available east of the Rockies or White Castle when it expanded. The consumers in the new territory didn’t grow up with the product and don’t have the same legacy dealing with the brand.

Roger Saunders
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

“Cult-like” devotion is expandable. In the case of restaurants, this is best accomplished with store operations — it’s Execution, Execution, Execution.

Those managers who have moved from California have to train and continuously reinforce the cultural aspects of In-N-Out. That means attention to quality food, keeping the promise of hustle and attention to the customers’ times, and a spirited, friendly environment.

Restaurants, whether they are the most elite white table cloths, or the best examples of QSR operations (chains or local single site operations), have long been some of the original “social communities”. Not everyone will be a believer, but In-N-Out can expand this concept to other cities and states if they pay close attention to operations — those messages will play into the marketing platform of keeping people coming back on a repeat basis.

“Big Openings” energize crews of associates, keep food hot and fresh, and permit all — customers and crews — to remain engaged in the business model of fast, friendly, fantastic food for all.

Mark Baum
Guest
Mark Baum
9 years 11 months ago

I made one of my usual pilgimages to In-N-Out during a business trip to NorCal last week. What will it take to get them to make a move into our Nation’s Capitol?

Craig Sundstrom
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

“It’s really a turning point for this area,” Los Angeles-raised Kip Cummings told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “The California spirit hits right here and begins to get entrenched. It’s very much a milestone.”

Easy there. Anyway, my answer to the basic question is both no and yes: as noted, much of its “cult” following is due to its oddities (the limited menu, retro decor ) and – presumably – food quality; I don’t think that will change any (on the contrary, more people will become aware of it, and the legend will grow); OTOH, part of the attraction was that it was something exotic and unattainable, and that obviously WILL be lost as InO becomes more widespread (much like the novelty of Bloomingdales has worn off). Another interesting development should be what happens as Five Guys moves west and eventually encounters InO’s eastern migration…Kip may need a sedative (and several napkins).

Mel Kleiman
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

Great expansion opportunity. In reality it is just another burger but perception is everying and the perception is that it is something special.

Lee Peterson
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

Simple answer: no. They do risk the potential to lose their cult-like status if they veer off and try to be all things to all people like the other fast food companies. In-N-Out: keep it simple!! They’re THE lesson for how to do fast food right.

Tony Orlando
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

I have tried their burgers in Vegas, and the customers are very loyal.

Good food, good prices, and a friendly staff, which means it should do well against any competition.

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