Monday, April 27, 2015

In-N-Out in Idaho? Not likely, at least for now

Here's some In-N-Out to get you going on a Monday. You're still going to have to drive to Utah, Nevada or California to get, it, at least for the foreseeable future.
One thing I have come to appreciate in the years I have been doing updates on local business is that readers can’t get enough news about chain restaurants’ plans for this area.

Carl’s Jr., Chick-fil-A, Dickey’s Bar-B-Cue, Togo’s … it’s all good. Here’s news that’s been reported but bears repeating: Noodles & Co. on Hitt Road near the Grand Teton Mall is opening May 4.

Truly though, is there anything that could excite people here more than In-N-Out Burger? Some of you started salivating when you saw the headline, I’ll bet. I rest my case. I recently got a question from a reader and figured it might be time for an update. Are they coming here? It’s possible, but at this stage you’d probably have as much luck getting a definitive answer from a Magic 8-Ball.

Companies like In-N-Out never say anything until they’re ready to make an announcement. The answer could be no one day and yes the next. In-N-Out doesn’t franchise and its policy is to not build a restaurant too far from one of their distribution centers.

"At In-N-Out Burger, we make all of our hamburger patties ourselves and deliver them fresh to all of our restaurants with our own delivery vehicles," In-N-Out vice president of planning and development Carl Van Fleet told Business Insider earlier this year. "Nothing is ever frozen. Our new restaurant locations are limited by the distance we can travel from our patty-making facilities and distribution centers."

They have a distribution center in Draper, Utah, which is less than a day from here, but is that close enough? The history of In-N-Out in Utah is interesting. In June 2007, the company’s customer service department started getting calls from people asking if In-N-Out had opened a location in American Fork under a different name, Chadder’s. The look was similar, as were trademarked items on the menu. When In-N-Out's general counsel paid a visit he requested an “Animal style Double-Double with Animal fries.” He got what he asked for, and on the basis of that Utah District Court Judge Ted Stewart issued a temporary restraining order. Chadder's changed its color scheme and practices.

In 2009, In-N-Out opened a restaurant in American Fork, less than a mile from the Chadder's restaurant. After that, seven more In-N-Outs popped up in the Salt Lake Valley. Chadder’s went out of business.

Since then, In-N-Out has shifted its focus to Texas. Here’s a map showing the counties where they have restaurants. The nearest to Idaho is in Riverdale, north of Salt Lake City. Is expansion northward possible? Of course, but simple geography would suggest that more locations in Utah would be likely before anything came here.

Rest assured, we’re keeping an eye on it.