business news in context, analysis with attitude

Yesterday we took note of a Fox News report that for the time being, every In-N-Out location in Texas - all 37 of them - have been closed. If you want a Double Double, Animal Style or a chocolate shake, you have to go elsewhere until In-N-Out gets a shipment of hamburger buns that the company feels are up to its standards.

That’s right. In-N-Out was dissatisfied with the quality of buns that it got - we are assured that it was a quality issue and not a food safety problem - so it decided that it would rather close than serve up burgers on sub-standard buns.

I commented:

Wow. Can you imagine? In-N-Out may lose money because of the closures, but the brand equity it gains - this clearly is a customer-focused statement, strategy and culture - is enormous. Priceless, you might say.

One MNB reader responded:

On a trip to California several years ago, I watched a PBS special on In-N-Out as they highlighted the history of the company, interviewed the executives, etc.  For a retail geek like me, it was riveting.   I immediately set out to find a restaurant and used public transportation to get there while my wife was attending a work-related meeting.   Once I arrived, I knew from your readers that I needed to order a “double-double, animal style”.   Upon my return, I was almost foaming at the mouth in my explanation to her about where I had been and what I had experienced as there is nothing like it in the Midwest where we live (sorry, Five Guys!).   After I took her back to the location I had visited, she was hooked as well. 

We rarely spend time in areas that have In-N-Outs, so it’s a special treat to stop in.   Just last month I walked from the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco down the hill to Fisherman’s Wharf for a burger and fries.   I suppose that once there’s an In-N-Out on every street corner in the US it won’t be a big deal……but for the time being, it’s a fun diversion.

But not everyone agrees. MNB David Spawn wrote:

I am perplexed by In-N-Out stating they “have always served the highest quality food with no compromise,” – dripping, grease-laden beef patties, with Kraft singles-quality cheese, iceberg lettuce and out of season tomatoes.  That is the statement that is an eye opener. 
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I would not start at In-N-Out Burger looking for the highest quality food for sure.

KC's View: