Will In-N-Out Burger hit East Coast next?
The opening of Texas locations and a Dallas distribution center could mean moves as far north as Iowa and as far east as Florida.
Southern California's In-N-Out Burger has officially opened in Texas. And if opening day of the Frisco location is any indication, Ronald McDonald should be shaking in his big red shoes.
Despite gas prices averaging more than $4 a gallon, folks waited as long as three hours in the In-N-Out drive-thru to get a taste of its burgers. Some even ran out of gas and had to have some delivered.
It's all part of what some folks think is a big expansion plan that could bring the burger joint with a cult following to the entire Southern U.S.
In-N-Out, which previously operated in five Western states, has some of the most die-hard customers in all of America. Some even travel from state to state to help celebrate new openings, and according to quotes in sundry reports over the past day or two, all of them share a love for In-N-Out's quality product and its lauded customer service.
While some fast-food joints are trying to trim the fat to appeal to health-conscious and status-seeking customers, In-N-Out takes pride in serving up its burgers -- just burgers -- hot and greasy. Best known is the Double Double, but all In-N-Out burgers are made with 100% fresh beef that's never frozen. The french fries also are made with freshly cut potatoes.
As for customer service, ordering is as simple as bellowing a No. 1, 2 or 3 to the friendly waitstaff and then adding American cheese, leafed lettuce, sliced onions and/or In-N-Out's special spread. The simple, good food and the straightforward, friendly ordering process make mistakes rare.
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In-N-Out has been creeping slowly eastward, much to the delight of anyone who has ever tasted its burgers. In addition to the Frisco and Allen locations in Texas, at least six others are planned for the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Future growth could bring In-N-Out restaurants to Houston, Austin and San Antonio.
More importantly, In-N-Out added a distribution center in Dallas to serve the Texas locations. And based on the nearly 700-mile radius of its distribution in the Western U.S. -- its facility in Baldwin Park, Southern California, serves locations as far away as northern Utah -- its feasible that In-N-Out could expand as far north as Iowa and as far east as the Florida panhandle.
Like the customers at the newest location in Texas, however, folks in those states likely have a long wait. It has taken In-N-Out almost three years to open eight restaurants in Utah. Despite a rabid following, the chain is measured in its expansion plans. It's also worth noting that many burger joints are on the defensive. McDonald's (MCD) recently raised prices on its Big Mac because of inflation, and Wendy's (WEN) just hiked its menu prices for the second time in two months.
However, if In-N-Out is serious about growth, then McDonald's and Wendy's may have bigger problems on their hands than inflation. Increased competition from a chain with such loyal customers could really shake up the fast-food industry.
I live in Northern Virginia where Five Guys started several years ago. In-N-Out Burger offers a way better burger than Five Guys. Five guys offers soggy fries where In-N-Out are crispy. The In-N-Out Burger restaurants are fresh looking and clean where Five Guys feels and looks like a greasy spoon. As a matter of fact when you leave Five Guys you feel like you just worked a shift in the kitchen cooking french fries all day.
Please bring In-Out-Burger to the East Coast sooner than later!
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Consumers are very status conscious in Asia, Africa and other emerging-market areas. This is especially true in China.
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