Ask omnivorous Californians moving to the Pacific Northwest for college what they’ll miss the most about home, there’s a good chance that In-N-Out Burger will be one of the many things on that list. Between the burgers, fries, shakes and secret sauce, In-N-Out always has lines out the door and is famously known for quality food at fair prices and portions.
“We are still in the early stages of development and are not yet ready to move forward with a particular location,” said In-N-Out’s Vice President, Denny Warnick. “We do believe that the Salem area is a great community . . . but, at this time, it is far too soon to comment on a specific location or any kind of timeline.”
To Willamette students, in particular, In-N-Out may be a nice addition seeing as they are affordable and also offer vegetarian options such as the grilled cheese and animal style fries, or vegan options such as the veggie burger. Gluten-free customers can also purchase a protein-style burger, which is a burger wrapped in lettuce instead of a bun.
While there are already two In-N-Out restaurants in Oregon, they’re not within a reasonable driving distance for WU students. One restaurant is located in Grants Pass and another in Medford.
Despite the seemingly generally excited opinions on more In-N-Out restaurants opening in Oregon, there was recently a boycott (now called off) surrounding In-N-Out’s $25,000 donation to the G.O.P. Californian Party. In the past, In-N-Out has also donated $30,000 in both 2016 and 2017. Additionally, In-N-Out has donated to a political action committee named California for Jobs and a Strong Economy. The organization is meant to support Democrats who are pro-business.
While the In-N-Out donation to the G.O.P. may be upsetting to people, especially in California which is a primarily blue state, there are many positive qualities about this company. Unlike some fast-food franchises in the U.S. that have expanded nationwide and even internationally, In-N-Out refuses to expand to the East Coast or anywhere that would make their products expire or decline in quality throughout transportation. They do this to reinstill their beliefs of keeping In-N-Out a chain instead of a franchise and maintaining the quality of their food.
Another positive trait In-N-Out’s name has to it is the benefits and excellent treatment that their employees experience and receive. The restaurant ranked as the fourth best place to work out of 50, topping both Google and Microsoft. It’s also remarkably the only restaurant chain on the list and employees on the average rate it over 4.5/5 stars. According to an In-N-Out employee interviewed by a Business Insider representative, they provide flexible schedules, the work environment is friendly and it’s possible to move up in the restaurant. They also provide great benefits, such as making an average of $12.19 per hour as a cashier and up to $16.75 per hour as a manager.
Being a frequent In-N-Out consumer while living in California, I felt that I was witnessing this positive working environment. When eating there with friends and family, we often times observed how they work as a single machine, mostly because they have such a high demand and a busy line every night and day of the week. But after reading about the employee’s thoughts on working at In-N-Out, it’s also clear they feel comfortable working so closely, quickly and productively together.
While the donation to the G.O.P. was not well received in a Democratic state where In-N-Out started out its thriving company, I believe it doesn’t undermine the good they’ve done as a company when it comes to holding their food to a significantly higher standard than other chains and franchises, while providing exceptional treatment and pay to their employees.
Every company has made decisions that we can find something wrong with or disagree with, but while we should express those disagreements healthily, we should also acknowledge the good that the company has done. From there, it’s the consumer’s decision if the good outweighs the bad and they can make the personal choice of returning to the restaurant or store based on the company’s ideals, political and religious affiliation and treatment of their employees. But ultimately, I think In-N-Out would be a really great addition to the Salem-Keizer area.