In-N-Out Is Making a Rare Move East With Several New Locations
If you grew up on the East Coast, or call the Midwest home, In-N-Out Burger has always been shrouded in a little bit of mystery. The California-based burger chain even features a (not-s0-secret) secret menu! Considered a West Coast institution, In-N-Out Burger has never expanded east of Texas—but it looks like that will finally change in the years to come. The iconic brand announced plans this week to begin opening restaurants in the Nashville, Tennessee area starting in 2026.
In-N-Out's very first eastern U.S. territory office will also be built in nearby Franklin, Tennessee. Construction is slated to begin in 2024, and upon completion, the 100,000-square-foot office will house numerous support departments like IT and human resources.
These newly announced expansion plans signify a major shift in the chain's prior reluctance to enter East Coast markets. The burger chain currently operates 385 locations in seven states: California, Arizona, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, and Texas.
"We are very excited to provide Tennesseans with our quality burgers, fries, and shakes," Lynsi Snyder, In-N-Out's owner and president, said in a statement. Lynsi's grandparents, Harry and Esther Snyder, opened the first In-N-Out drive-thru restaurant in 1948 in Baldwin Park, California.
"In every decision I make, I always consider what my family would want," she continued. "I have no doubt that my grandparents, dad, and uncle would be proud of this decision to grow our Associate family and serve even more amazing customers beginning in Nashville and the surrounding areas."
Why has it taken so long for In-N-Out to move out east? Freshness is a top priority for the brand. In-N-Out refuses to use frozen beef or french fries. That's a policy that every customer can appreciate, but it's also limited the chain somewhat when it comes to expansion. All locations must be within 300 miles of one of their patty-making meat distribution centers, currently located in only two states: California and Texas.
Per Snyder, the Tennessee locations tentatively planned for 2026 will be supported by In-N-Out's meat production facility in Lancaster, Texas.
"While we are focused on Tennessee at this time, knowing we'll be delivering from our warehouse in Texas, there is a path that crosses a few other states that could be in our future," Snyder told Restaurant Business in an email. A quick glance at a map of the USA suggests she may be hinting at further In-N-Out expansion across states like Oklahoma, Louisiana, or Mississippi in the years to come.
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, meanwhile, has hailed the burger chain's decision as a boon to the local economy. In a statement, he called In-N-Out's expansion plans a $125 million investment that will bring over 275 new jobs to the area. "It's a life-changing decision. It's exciting for our state," he added.
It's hard to see this news as anything other than a W for taste buds all over the USA. If In-N-Out's Tennessee expansion is a success (and why wouldn't it be?), it may not be long before new locations start appearing all over the East Coast and Midwest.