April 10, 2011
Tom Henningsen visits his first In-N-Out Burger
Long-time friends from the baseball card hobby, Alice and Tom Henningsen, were our house guests for four days in early April. Life-long Chicagoans, Tom was born the last year that his Cubbies were in the World Series, 1945. "The Cubs are going to win it this year," he said. Of course, he says that every year.
When he first met Alice, there was a spark between them, but there was also a problem. Her knowledge of baseball was, to say the least, limited. He knew that upon asking his future bride, "Where does the shortstop stand?" and she was clueless. That has been ironed out during their long marriage.
Tom, who was a columnist when we published Baseball Hobby News, had one request concerning his stay with us. He wanted to experience the cult fast-food restaurant, In-N-Out Burger. None of its nearly 260 outlets is anywhere near Illinois. " I've wanted to go to In-N-Out for a long time," he said.
"For us in Chicago, In-N-Out has a sort of iconic status. It's mentioned in so many books and seen in so many movies and TV shows that it's almost become a destination within a destination." And so we took the Henningsens to the In-N-Out just a mile from our home.
Of that experience Tom said, "The thought of a successful fast-food franchise doing well with such a limited menu is pretty amazing. When we walked in, I was surprised at how crowded the place was at what wasn't, really, a typical fast-food-busy time. Having to wait for a table just added to the anticipation. The staff was very efficient.
"I'd love to return, but, next time, I'd have a milkshake. Chicago would probably embrace the franchise even after the novelty wore off. The hamburger was better than most fast food burgers I've tasted. Plus, to quote many hosts of Food Network shows, there was a 'lovely presentation.' I'm a fan."
ABOUT IN-N-OUT BURGER
Locations: California 203, Arizona 28, Nevada 16, Utah 8 and Texas 3
In-N-Out Burger is a regional chain of fast food restaurants with locations in the western United States. Founded in 1948 by Harry Snyder and his wife Esther, establishing the first In-N-Out burger in Baldwin Park and headquartered in Irvine, California, In-N-Out Burger has since expanded outside Southern California to the rest of the state, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah, with Texas locations coming soon.
The current owner is Lynsi Martinez, the only grandchild of founders Harry and Esther Snyder. There are currently 258 locations (as of March 2011) with no location more than one day's drive from the Baldwin Park distribution center. The company's business practices have been noted for employee-centered personnel policies. For example, In-N-Out is one of the few fast food chains in the United States to pay its employees significantly more than state and federally-mandated minimum wage guidelines – starting at $10 per hour in California, as of January 2008.
The In-N-Out restaurant chain has developed a loyal customer base, and has been rated as one of the top fast food restaurants in several customer satisfaction surveys.