Bunless Burgers Old News to California Chain brought a smile to my face — and a longing in my heart (and stomach) to return to California:
As one fast-food behemoth after another jumps on the bunless burger bandwagon, devotees of a small Southern California-based chain of drive-through eateries are taking some pride in saying, ‘We told you so.’
Patrons of In-N-Out Burger have been ordering high-protein, low-carbohydrate hamburgers wrapped in lettuce for more than 30 years.
The protein-style burger is part of the “secret menu” that has developed over the years as the privately held chain of restaurants has strived to accommodate its customers’ fondness for customized food.
(Another entry on the secret menu is the “animal-style” burger, a beef patty cooked in mustard with grilled onions, pickles and an extra helping of a secret “special sauce.”)
(For serious eaters, the secret menu also includes the “four-by-four.” As its name implies, it includes four hamburger patties and four slices of cheese.)
Restaurant consultant Edward Engoron attributes In-N-Out’s success to sticking to a simple approach for more than 50 years: fast food made from scratch and made-to-order. The restaurants’ butchers select and grind the beef and the buns are baked daily. All produce is delivered fresh, and none of the restaurants has freezers or microwaves.
How I miss my four-by-four!
Interestingly, In-N-Out is not a franchise:
The company, which says it “has no plans” to offer stock or franchise its operations, does not release financial data, but Engoron estimates that each restaurant earns an average of $2 million annually — about 20 percent of which is profit.
Those are numbers “considerably higher” than McDonald’s and Burger King in per store volume and net earnings, he said.
“It seems the biggest complaint about In-N-Out is that there aren’t enough of them,” Engoron added.