The History of In-N-Out Burger

If you’re craving a simple cheeseburger or prefer to be served an extra special genuine American burger, you can’t go wrong by choosing the In-N-Out Burger restaurants. This is one of the few chains left that can give you an authentic and good old-fashioned American experience. In fact, it’s even the favorite restaurant of some world-famous celebrities and respected chefs. These include famous names like Gordon Ramsey, Anthony Bourdain, Julia Childs, and Thomas Keller.

In-N-Out Burger was founded by Harry Snyder and Esther Snyder in Baldwin Park, California in 1948. It’s a local chain of restaurants in America, with branches mostly located in the American Southwest and Pacific Coast. In the present time, it has slowly expanded into the rest of California and also to Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Texas, and Oregon. The chain is currently owned by Lynsi Snyder, who is the only grandchild of the original founders.

burger at In-n-Out Burger

In-N-Out Burger is indeed one of the very successful chains of burger restaurants. Have you ever wondered how it started? If you want to know the story behind its success, read on to find out about the history of this famous chain:

How it Began

The beginning of the In-N-Out Burger started in the kitchen of a restaurant. After serving in World War II, Harry Snyder worked with a catering company while harboring a passion for business. There, he met Esther, whom he later married.

Harry came back to Baldwin Park, his hometown, with his new wife. They opened their first restaurant in 1948, just across the street from the home Harry grew up in.

In-N-Out Burger’s First Generation

Before In-N-Out Burger became a restaurant, it started out as a drive-thru hamburger stand in California. The stand allowed drivers to place their orders via a two-way speaker system.

After three years, a second In-N-Out Burger was opened in Covina, California, west of the intersection of Grand Avenue and Arrow Highway. It remained a small southern California chain until the 1970s. The first restaurants were managed closely by the Snyders to ensure good quality. When Harry Snyder died in 1976, the chain had 18 restaurants.

In-N-Out Burger’s Second Generation

After Harry Snyder’s death, his 24-year-old son Rich Snyder became the company president in 1976. Together with his brother, Guy, he began working in his father’s In-N-Out restaurants at a young age. After 20 years of his leadership, the chain had grown, expanding to 93 restaurants.

In 1990, In-N-Out Burger’s first location outside of the Los Angeles area was opened. It was also the 61st location in the chain. Then, in 1992, it opened its first non-Southern California restaurant in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The following year, the chain expanded to Northern California, and it opened its first restaurant there in Modesto. The chain’s expansion continued in Northern California, including the San Francisco Bay Area. There were also additional restaurants that were built in Las Vegas. For the time being, all seemed to go smoothly regarding the In-N-Out Burger chain.


Tragedy Hits In-N-Out Burger

Unfortunately, after In-N-Out Burger opened its 93rd store in Fresno, California, Rich Snyder and four other passengers died in a plane crash going to Orange County, California on December 15, 1993. The charter aircraft they were on was following a Boeing 757. It became caught in its wake turbulence and crashed.

Upon Rich Snyder’s death, Guy Snyder assumed the presidency of the restaurant chain. He was the president of the company for six years, during which time he was able to continue its expansion from 83 to 140 locations. However, in 1999, Guy Snyder died from an overdose of painkillers. His mother, Esther, then took over the restaurant’s presidency.

In-N-Out Burger in the 21st Century

In the year 2000, new locations of In-N-Out Burger were opened in Arizona. In 2004, it added new restaurants in Reno, Sparks, and Carson City, Nevada where it became a huge success. It also opened its first restaurant in Tucson, Arizona in 2007. The opening of this store broke company records for the most burgers sold in a day and the most sold in a week.

Changes in Leadership

While the company continued to grow, it struggled to maintain its family roots. In 2006, Esther Snyder died at the age of 86. The presidency of the company was then passed to Mark Taylor, who was the former vice president of operations. He was the fifth president and the first non-family member to hold the position.

The current president and owner of the company is Lynsi Snyder, daughter of Guy, and the only grandchild of the Snyders. In 2012, she gained 50% control of the company when she turned 30. On May 5th, 2017, she gained full ownership at the age of 35. The Bloomberg Billionaires Index has declared her to be the youngest female billionaire in America.

Further Expansions

In-N-Out Burger expanded into its fourth state in 2008 and opened a location in Washington, Utah, and in the suburb of St. George. From there, it continued to expand into northern Utah in late 2009, with three new locations placed in Draper, American Fork, and Orem.

More locations opened up in the year 2010. These are in West Valley City, West Jordan, Centerville, and Riverton. Lynsi Snyder assumed the presidency in the same year after participating in various roles in the company, becoming the sixth president.

On May 11, 2011, In-N-Out Burger expanded into Texas. There, it opened its first two locations in Frisco and Allen. In December 2013, the chain opened another location in Austin. All in all, there are 21 restaurant locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and 4 in the Austin area. Due to the number of these locations in Texas, the company was required to build a new patty production facility and distribution center in the state.

In the fall of 2014, In-N-Out Burger opened its 22nd Texas location in Killeen. Then on November 20, 2014, the chain opened its first location in San Antonio, and it was followed by its first location in Waco in a year later.

In-N-Out Burger opened its 300th restaurant in Anaheim, California in January 2015. During that opening, the chain had generated $558 million in annual sales and currently has about 18,000 employees in California, Nevada, Utah, Texas, and Arizona.

On September 9, 2015, which is Harry Snyder’s birthday, the chain opened its first location in Oregon. During that opening, Lynsi Snyder announced that more expansion will continue in the following years.

On November 30, 2017, In-N-Out Burger announced plans to build a production facility and distribution center in Colorado Springs. That was ahead of an expansion into Colorado, which is scheduled to be completed in 2021.

Franchise Plans

Most American fast food chains operate on a franchise basis. This allows them to expand very rapidly, gaining international markets and varying their menu along the way. However, the owners and presidents of In-N-Out Burger have been known for their complete refusal to franchise. This means that all the operations and locations are still under the original family name, with no one stepping in to run a location under the In-N-Out Burger brand.

This sets the restaurant apart from several other chains that have thousands of franchises all over the world. These include McDonald’s, Subway, Elevation Burger, Wendy’s, and Five Guys. White Castle, however, is another example of a popular American restaurant chain that has refused to sell any franchises to date.

Lynsi Snyder, the current president of the chain, has also announced that there are no plans to franchise the In-N-Out Burger brand yet. This is due to several reasons, the most obvious one being a wish to maintain the quality of their product. The In-N-Out Burger is famous for doing what it’s good at and sticking to it. Franchising will probably have them compromising on their refined business philosophy.

Before his death, Rich Snyder told Forbes magazine that franchising would seem to hi like prostituting his parents. He didn’t want to lose what he had grown up with, and making money through franchises will have him giving up part of his childhood.

The Differences

Even though In-N-Out Burger presents a vastly different set of rules than other burger chains, it’s still growing steadily each year. Even while everyone’s moving towards a more healthy way of eating, this restaurant remains a classic favorite.

From the very beginning, In-N-Out Burger combined its quick service without compromising on authentic taste. Places like McDonald’s may also may a high level of success, but they’re hardly counted as quality food. This is because most restaurants try to minimize costs and amp up their service by using pre-cut, frozen, and preserved foods.

In-N-Out Burger, on the other hand, has always been insistent upon using the highest-quality products. Their burger patties are made from freshly butchered meat, fries from just-cut potatoes, and their milkshakes use real dairy ice cream. Perhaps that’s the secret of their success; not jumping on every food trend bandwagon, but sticking with the classics and surpassing all their competition.  


The In-N-Out Burger is a restaurant chain that’s certainly set itself apart from most others in the same market. It has successfully grown while adhering to its family roots and simple goals– which is to provide fresh and high-quality food as well as the best service to their customers. It is one of those restaurants that did not sacrifice the quality of their products and services just to expand and grow rapidly. Even so, the whole setup is quite profitable and is even giving back to the community through the In-N-Out Burger Foundation.