Brooks Powell spent some time last night and early this morning at the opening of the first In-N-Out in Texas. Not only did he get to talk to the owner of the company, but he met the first guy in line and the first guy in the drive-thru line. These are serious INO fans (aka freaks). Jump for Powell’s report.
The Bun Also Rises
By Brooks Powell
Followers of Southern California’s In-N-Out Burger chain sometimes describe their experiences as religious in nature. Some say the burgers are heaven. Others compare the cheesy, greasy patties to God Himself.
One such devotee is Ron Russek, a 44-year-old Southern California transplant to Cleburne. He owns a total of nine Domino’s Pizza franchises in DFW and Waco but gave up his day job for two days this week to stake his claim as first in line for an In-N-Out Burger at Texas’ first store, which officially opened this morning in Allen as In-N-Out #255. (Frisco’s is store #256, so it’s technically the second store in Texas.)
Russek is more than an In-N-Out enthusiast. He claims to have eaten at more than 170 locations and admits to having slept overnight to be the first customer at several stores. He has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of store locations and can recite on cue exactly how to get to each using street names.
For the record, his burger is a Double-Double (two patties, two slices of cheese) with spread (the company’s special sauce), lettuce, ketchup, and pickles.
The draw, Russek says, is the quality of the product and the customer service. “It’s always fresh, never frozen, and I like having real potatoes for my fries,” he says. “But the service just blows everybody away.” Russek says he’s had just two mistaken orders in nearly a lifetime of eating In-N-Out, and both times the mistake was corrected immediately.
Kip Cummings, 47, is another In-N-Out devotee — but he’s even more fanatical. Faced with a choice of attending his son’s graduation as a pre-med student from Louisiana State University or missing the opening of Texas’ first In-N-Out store, Cummings told his son to videotape graduation. He was headed to Dallas.
Cummings is an insurance salesman who splits time between Shreveport, Louisiana, and Lufkin, Texas. His upbringing in Los Angeles left him with an insatiable In-N-Out craving that he seeks to satisfy no matter the cost. Cummings says that when he flies to a state with In-N-Outs, he selects the airport based on how quickly he can get his lips around a juicy Double-Double.
At the store opening in Allen, Cummings was first in line to get drive-through service, which, he says he knew would be exactly the same as he has experienced in his native California.
“I’ve been eating In-N-Out for nearly 40 years, and the burgers now are exactly the same as they were then,” he says. “It’s all about consistency.”
Tuesday afternoon, Russek and Cummings were invited to a ribbon-cutting and special reception for In-N-Out VIPs at the store. The menu: In-N-Out burgers, of course. So, technically, those in attendance, including company execs and Allen’s mayor, were the first to eat In-N-Out in Texas. But who’s keeping track?
On hand Tuesday afternoon and early Wednesday morning for the grand opening, Lynsi Martinez, the owner of the In-N-Out chain, says she’s ecstatic about the brand moving into Texas. “It’s been a long time that we’ve been talking about coming to Texas,” Martinez says. “Actually, being here today, and it being a reality — and us being this far from where we started — it’s monumental.”
For now, the privately owned burger company plans a total of seven locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, including locations soon to open in Arlington, Dallas, Fort Worth, and Irving.
As for the religious nature of the burgers and the company’s faithful following, customers might be intrigued to know two scripture references are included on the company’s packaging. John 3:16 is found on the bottom of every cup, and Revelation 3:20 is printed on every burger wrapper. The tradition dates back to the company’s founding in 1948.