N-N-Out Burger, the popular California fast-food chain, is expanding east as far as Tennessee, a move the Tennessee governor called “life-changing.”
The family-owned burger company will open an “eastern region office” in Tennessee, as well as several Nashville-area restaurants, by 2026, according to state officials, and the In-N-Out owner said more eastward expansion is in the works.
In-N-Out, “a cult happening to serve burgers and fries,” as Bon Appétit once put it, was founded in a Los Angeles suburb, and has expanded to just six other western states in its 75-year history. It currently sells takeaway burgers as far east as Texas.
“We’re getting a lot of requests in different states to open, and I’m very happy to meet customers here and make their dreams come true, and maybe some other states feel a little tight,” Lynsey Snyder Ellingson, In-N-Owner and President of Outs, said at a Tennessee press conference to announce the expansion.
“Don’t worry, there are others that will eventually be included in this plan,” she added.
The burger chain, founded in 1948, is a California landmark, known for its nostalgic decor, never-frozen burgers, and curiously disappointing fries.
It has hosted photo shoots and even weddings, while also sparking backlash in recent years for the family-owned company’s conservative policies, donations to the California Republican Party and its public refusal to comply with the San Francisco vaccine mandate in 2021.
In-N-Out’s slow expansion eastward from California has been met with enthusiastic response in the past, with customers in Texas camping out in the parking lot overnight for early access to burgers, the Huffington Post reported in 2011. A local journalist was quoted as saying.
But some residents of the eastern United States have also greeted the buzz about the West Coast burger chain with skepticism. New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called In-N-Out “overrated,” in a 2022 interview, citing in particular the quality of their fries.
Many Californians continue to buy entirely into the In-N-Out cult. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who moved to California in 2020, have praised their love of In-N-Out in multiple interviews with US news outlets, saying the staff is in their favorite location. Know their typical arrangement. Harry recently told People magazine that his favorite meal is a “doubles [cheeseburgers]Animal style fries and Coke.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said he had a vivid personal memory of eating the first In-N-Out Burger in Southern California and appreciated the famous Bible verse printed on the bottom of the burger chain’s cups.
He called In-N-Out “a great American company,” and said he was excited and grateful to the company for choosing Tennessee as its “first hub in the eastern United States.” Which is expected to create at least 275 new local jobs.
“It’s a life-changing decision. It’s exciting for our country,” he told me.