Words & Deeds

In-N-Out Burger: ‘We are aware of the great opportunities in Idaho’

When I set up a poll recently asking readers “Which chain restaurant should come to Boise?,” the result was a fast-food landslide.

A whopping 44 percent of the 4,588 votes were cast for In-N-Out Burger. The next closest restaurant was White Castle — at just 8 percent.

With so many Californians moving to Idaho, it comes as no surprise. Headquartered in Irvine, California, In-N-Out is a West Coast legend.

So why isn’t In-N-Out in Boise?

“Slow and controlled growth has always been part of our strategy here at In-N-Out Burger,” says Denny Warnick, In-N-Out’s vice president of operations. “We currently operate restaurants in California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Texas and Oregon. While we are aware of the great opportunities in Idaho, our slow growth plans will keep us focused in the six states where we currently operate for at least the near future.”

Translation: Boise might get an In-N-Out someday. But not tomorrow.

The private, family-owned company works at its own pace.

“We own and operate all of our restaurants ourselves, and we don’t franchise,” Warnick says. “That’s just one of the reasons for our slow growth.”

I’ve heard it said that Boise’s location decreases our attractiveness to In-N-Out, because of food shipping distance.

I asked Warnick about that.

“Our own in-house butchers produce all of our meat patties at In-N-Out Burger facilities in three locations: Baldwin Park, California, Lathrop, California, and Dallas, Texas,” Warnick says. “We do this so that we can control the quality and freshness of every meat patty we serve. The ability to deliver our fresh meat patties to all of our restaurants is one of the most important considerations for us when we consider expanding to a new market.”

In-N-Out gets those patties from California to Utah. So it seems like Boise would be possible.

One thing is certain: Boise is on In-N-Out’s radar.

“We consider it a great compliment to be considered as a favorite burger restaurant in the wish-list survey of ‘which restaurants should come to Boise,’ Warnick says. “The fact that this result comes directly from your readers in Idaho makes it especially meaningful.”

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