The year is 1948 and fast food restaurants are practically non-existent. Harry and Esther Snyder decide that with Harry’s idea of having the customers order through a two-way speaker box, they could create a unique and new type of burger stand. During those times it was very common to see carhops serving those who wanted to order food from their car. Harry’s idea caught on quick and California got it’s very first drive-thru hamburger stand in Baldwin Park.
The Snyders knew from the start exactly how they wanted to run their business: “Give customers the freshest, highest quality foods you can buy and provide them with friendly service in a sparkling clean environment.” This business philosophy was so beneficial that it is still what the company employees abide by today. Quality, freshness, and service were always very important to Harry and Esther, so much that they made their two sons, Guy and Rich, learn the business from the “ground floor”. From a young age, Guy and Rich worked at In-N-Out, learning the very ways that were to become the cobblestones of In-N-Out’s yellow brick road.
After almost three years, a second In-N-Out finally opened. By 1976, the year of Harry Snyder’s passing, there were only 18 drive-thru locations. Upon his death, Rich took over as company President at the ripe age of 24, and with help from his brother Guy, they setup a commissary at their Baldwin Park headquarters. This new facility allowed for them to have total quality control over all In-N-Out ingredients. On top of that, they also created the In-N-Out ‘University’, where all new managers were trained and the business plan that they so vehemently believed in was consistently reinforced. While under Rich’s Presidency, In-N-Out expanded from 18 locations in 1976 to 93 at the time of his death in 1993. Guy Snyder took over as CEO after his brother’s passing.
CEO Guy Snyder carried on In-N-Out’s saga by continuing expansion throughout California, Nevada and Arizona. Guy carried on the same tradition that was set in 1948 by his parents, stressing the same basic values that helped make In-N-Out so successful over the years. Under Guy, In-N-Out grew from 93 to 140 locations before his death in 1999.
The atmosphere of enthusiasm for serving customers the freshest quality hamburgers and french fries can be seen all the way from each store location to the office Associates. Even though years have gone and people have passed, little has changed at In-N-Out. The menu: burgers, fries and drinks, is still the same basic list customers have enjoyed since 1948. Everything is still made fresh to order. There are no microwaves or freezers. Customers may observe french fries being made from hand-diced, fresh, whole potatoes. And the shakes are made from real ice cream.
In recent years, there have been few modifications to the actual offerings of In-N-Out. Originally, only drive-thru and walk up service were offered, which you can still find at certain locations. But as more locations were added, and the company grew, contemporary locations with indoor and outdoor seating became available. There are also a few unlisted items and variations of meals that you can get made, even though they’re not on the menu. One of the more popular variations is getting your meal ‘Animal Style,’ which in the case of a burger means double everything except meat, and on fries; cover it in secret sauce, onions and cheese. You can also order just cheese fries, or get a grilled cheese. Or if you are feeling really spunky, order up a Neapolitan shake, which is chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry all mixed together.
In-N-Out remains privately owned to this day and the Snyder family has no plans to take the company public or franchise any of their restaurants. All employees are treated like family, many of whom have been with In-N-Out for over 20 years. With this constant family mentality, it’s understandable why In-N-Out is so successful. I know that I personally have had some amazing times hanging out there with my friends. The environment is always immaculate, the food is always good and the people are always excited to see you in there. When you can go get some great food, and have a good time, over and over again, then you know you have found a place that is sacred. That is what In-N-Out is, it’s sacred. If you haven’t ever been, or don’t know what all the rage is about, find a location and go there now.
Source: In-N-Out Burger
Pictures & Words: Taylor Corner