In ‘N Out Burger: What Would You Camp Out For?

In 'N Out Burger Signage at 11pmWhat would you camp out overnight for?

This was the question posed by Casey Scott from Channel 2 (KUTV), Salt Lake City on the 6AM news on Thursday, November 19th, 2009. Casey asked this to the morning viewers as well as the dozen of us who had just spent the evening in tents and sleeping bags in front of the newly opened In ‘N Out Burger in Draper, Utah.

So, what got us to this day?

The Greatest Day of Jeremy Hanks’ Life

As Kristina and I were getting ready to move to the 801 (Salt Lake City), I began connecting with some of the locals who were tied into social media. I followed people on Twitter and subscribed to a handful of blogs. One of those blogs was Adventures in Entrepreneurship, by Jeremy Hanks. Jeremy is the founder of Doba and a pretty cool dude. He was my guest on Blue Sky Factory TV (#BSFTV) back in July (Episode #17). But more important that any of that stuff is what Jeremy blogged about on February 12, 2009. The title of the post was I’ve lived about 12,500 days. Greatest one? Today! In this post, Jeremy highlighted the Salt Lake Tribune’s announcement of In ‘N Out Burger opening up their first store in the state of Utah – Draper, to be specific.

Jeremy and I connected a bit in the comments of this post. We discussed our mutual love for the best burger in the world – one that would be coming to Utah…soon. Jeremy called the good folks at In ‘N Out about a dozen times. They would not commit to anything. Finally, a week before opening, he received a “99% certain we’ll be opening on Thursday” response. We planned our campout and the rest is history.

Below is a video-pictorial of the events as they unfolded. Enjoy.

If you are having trouble viewing, try

Want to see a few more videos? Check out what KSL said (I’m on camera about 1:14 in) and Channel 2.

The Best Day Of My Life

Well, I certainly had fun. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The best day of my life? Well, that may be a stretch. However, I did learn a ton more about what makes In ‘N Out Burger such an incredible company.

  1. Associates: In ‘N Out Burger is family-owned and operated. They treat their associates (employees) like gold. They pay them above minimum wage ($10/hr, I think) and some receive benefits (again, I think). For all store openings, they bring in 60+ all-stars – the best of the best associates – to spend 3 months training the newbies. They put them up in a local hotel while the associates work to make the new store the best. The President and several VPs are also present for all store openings.
  2. Pride: We talked to at least 20 of the All-Stars over a 24-hour period. They all loved what they did. They all smiled the entire time, asked how they could help, and even brought us hot chocolate and coffee. Heck! It was cold out there (~25 degrees). It was clear that they took pride in their work and loved In ‘N Out Burger. I’ve been to many In ‘N Outs over the past 15 years or so and have experienced this same pride in every store I’ve been to.
  3. Freshness: Around 3AM, the In ‘N Out Burger arrived with all of the fresh ingredients for the day. Fresh hamburger beef, lettuce, tomatoes, and potatoes. In ‘N Out cuts their fries every day. Carl, one of the In ‘N Out VPs who was present at the Draper opening talked a lot about this. He was very proud of the freshness.
  4. Following: While there were “only” a dozen of us brave souls who camped out to be first in line (still not happy we were 3rd and 4th!), the line started to grow when the news crews arrived at 5AM. By the 9AM opening the line was out the door. As you saw from the video, when Kristina and I arrived later that evening, the wait was over an hour. The drive-through wait was nearly 2 hours. Not sure I would call In ‘N Out fans “groupies,” but they are certainly into their burgers. For more on fans vs. groupies, read my previous post, Jessie’s Girl.

So, again, while this was not the best day of my life, we certainly had fun. We came. We camped out. We were interviewed. We ate. We returned. We ate again. Did I say we camped out?

What would you camp out overnight for?

Photo Credit: me!

DJ Waldow