Gut Check is old and cynical and few things get us to bounce up and down in our not-even-close-to-ergonomically suitable desk chair with pure joy and enthusiasm any more. This item from Eater was one of those few things.
In-N-Out Burger, the celebrated California chain, home of one of fast food's most beloved cheeseburgers, recently announced that it was expanding eastward, with eight locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. It's In-N-Out's policy not to build any outposts beyond a 500-mile radius of its distribution centers, which would mean that In-N-Out in St. Louis would remain a dream.
However, Eater discovered a loophole: The In-N-Out in Centerville, Utah, is 685 miles from the distribution center in Baldwin Park, California. If In-N-Out is willing to stretch its boundaries, might it stretch them 646 miles to St. Louis? For a moment, it was as though the heavens sang.
But then, because we are a reporter and bound to be a fact-confirming killjoy, we picked up the phone and gave In-N-Out HQ a call.
"It's probably wishful thinking," Phyllis Cudworth, our contact in the marketing department, informs us.
But she adds that she isn't authorized to give a definitive answer and will have to bounce our question on up to a VP.
At this point, Gut Check has to concede that our next move is, um, less than professional. "We love our junk food here," we gush to Phyllis. "Truly, we do. We're one of the fattest cities in America! If In-N-Out comes, we will welcome you with love and joy and maybe even a parade. Do you think that'd make any headway with your higher-ups?"
Unlike Gut Check, Phyllis remains cool as a dill pickle straight from the fridge and primly promises to pass along our message.
We'll let you know when we hear back.
Update March 16, 3 p.m.: Carl van Fleet, In-N-Out's VP of planning and development has gotten back to us. Unfortunately, the news is not good. He writes in an e-mail:
We grow pretty slowly at In-N-Out Burger and, at this time, the only area we are working on in Texas is the Dallas-Fort Worth market. You asked specifically about St. Louis and, while we hope to get there someday, we are not planning on expanding to a sixth state in the near future. Thank you for the great compliment that you expressed when you mentioned welcoming us with a parade. However, we will continue to grow slowly (we've been in business for 62 years) and that means not expanding beyond our 4 and soon-to-be 5 states any time soon.
But hey Carl, when you do? Remember about that parade.