The city of Atlanta, Georgia, is famous for many great things, from its delicious food and incredible restaurants to its extravagant hotels and impressive schools. However, while this city seems to have it all, it still lacks an In-N-Out restaurant. While it seemed like it may never happen, recent events are making the possibility more real than ever before. So, here’s when In-N-Out could finally open in Atlanta, Georgia, and how long the citizens of the city may have to wait.
What is In-N-Out?
Long-time residents of Atlanta may be asking themselves why everyone is wondering when In-N-Out could finally open in Atlanta, Georgia. They may not realize that In-N-Out is one of the most famous and sought after restaurants West of the Mississippi River. They’ve been a hit since they opened the doors back in 1948 in Baldwin Park, California. In fact, they’ve been so revolutionary that they were one of the first fast-food restaurants to introduce the speaker system that allowed customers to order from their cars.
If you’ve never been to an In-N-Out, you’d likely be surprised to find that there are only three meals on the menu. You can get a traditional hamburger, a cheeseburger, or a “double-double,” which is a burger with two patties. They’re also famous for their secret menu that has special items like a grilled cheese sandwich and an “animal style” burger.
The restaurant has become so famous that when people take vacation out to western states, many will want to stop at an In-N-Out just to say that they’ve been there. That’s why it’s no wonder that many people in Atlanta are clamoring for the restaurant.
Where Are In-N-Out Burgers Now?
Part of the reason why so many people are aware of In-N-Out is that there are many restaurants already in existence. Currently, there are 394 locations in 279 cities. While it seems like a lot, all of those restaurants are currently in only seven states: California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Texas, Colorado, and Oregon. There are plans to expand the empire to new states, like Idaho and New Mexico, but it will take time.
The Key to Getting To Atlanta is the Distribution Centers
The current trend is that all of the restaurants are in the western part of the United States, and a lot of the reason for that is due to the company’s distribution centers. The company has a rule that they will not open any In-N-Out restaurant unless they are within 600 miles of a distribution center.
The reason for that is based on the fact that the company insists on only serving the best and freshest ingredients. When you go to one of their restaurants, you can see them cook the food right there in front of you. That freshness is why people will happily wait in the drive-thru line for 15 minutes or more just to get their meal. When the distribution centers are that close, it means that the restaurants will get their food without the risk of it going bad, and they’ll also get the other necessary supplies in a timely manner.
Currently, there are six In-N-Out distribution centers, and they’re located in:
- Baldwin Park, California
- Phoenix, Arizona
- Lathrop, California
- Draper, Utah
- Colorado Springs, Colorado
- Dallas, Texas
At this point, the closest distribution center to Atlanta, Georgia is the Dallas, Texas facility, but that’s still over 750 miles away. But all hope is not lost. In 2023, In-N-Out ownership announced that they’d be opening a new office/distribution center in Franklin, Tennessee. Once that construction project is complete, it would mean that there would be a distribution center just over 250 miles away from Atlanta, Georgia.
When In-N-Out Could Finally Open in Atlanta, Georgia
So when could the dream of having In-N-Out in Atlanta become a reality? Well, it could be sooner than later. The company said that the construction of the Franklin, Tennessee, distribution center would start in 2024, and it should end by 2024. After it’s complete, they will start opening restaurants in Tennessee. It’s unlikely that the company will build restaurants in multiple states at once, so if they are to move into Atlanta, it would probably take a few years for them to make an announcement and it would take a few years after that for construction of the Atlanta restaurants to be completed.
Why Atlanta Needs In-N-Out
If the company isn’t currently putting serious thought into moving into Atlanta once the Tennessee distribution center is complete, then they should. It’s true for many reasons. For starters, there are a lot of people in Atlanta. As of the 2021 census, there were just under 500,000 people in Atlanta, and that’s a lot of hungry mouths. The company has 14 restaurants in Las Vegas alone, and while it’s a larger city, it’s only up to about 647,000 folks as of the 2021 numbers. So, there’s a lot of people who would eat there and also many qualified folks who could work as managers, order takers, and more.
There are a lot of people milling around Atlanta at once, and that doesn’t include the many people who visit every year. In 2019 alone, there were an estimated 57 million visitors. Just imagine all of the people who are visiting Atlanta that have either been to an In-N-Out before or know about it and would want to eat there while in town. People come for the famous aquarium, the zoo, the botanical garden, and more. If they put In-N-Out restaurants near those locations, they would be sure to get a lot of business.
That’s just Atlanta. Once the company had success there, they could expand around Georgia. As of 2021, there were almost 11 million people living in the state. That’s more than the populations of Utah, Nevada, and Arizona, and all of those states have restaurants that are incredibly successful, so it seems like a no-brainer.
What’s Working Against Atlanta
Back in 2019, someone played a prank and put up a sign that said that an In-N-Out restaurant was coming to Atlanta, but it was debunked pretty quickly. Sadly, that’s what’s working against Atlanta’s chances of having an In-N-Out being built in the near future. As of the time of this writing, there just hasn’t been any news from the company about a potential move to Georgia, so it’s all up in the air at this point.
Great Atlanta Restaurants To Try in the Meantime
While In-N-Out may not have yet made its presence known, there are many other incredible restaurants in Atlanta to try in the meantime.
Miller Union – They serve some of the best down-home food in the city, from grass-fed burgers to incredible duck breast. The executive chef is a James Beard Award winner.
Bones – It’s a super restaurant with a classic menu. Go for the chilled seafood platter and come back for the creamy lobster bisque. They also sell the best pecan pie in the area, and many people go there just for that.
8Arm – If you choose to skip meat in your meals, then this is your place. As of this writing, the restaurant gives the option of 13 amazing plates and most of them are meatless, and they’re all delicious.
Tiny Lou’s – It’s technically classic French cuisine, but there’s something there for everyone. Try the foie gras torchon with a side of steak frites.
Arnette’s Chop Shop – It’s the quintessential steakhouse. Try the ribeye, and you absolutely cannot skip the sweet-and-spicy jalapeño cream corn.
El Tesoro – They sell some of the best tacos, margaritas, and refried black beans in the state, and there’s a great brunch menu.
The question of when In-N-Out could finally open in Atlanta, Georgia, is not easy to answer. The company hasn’t moved East of the Mississippi River officially as of yet, but they are working on it, so only time will tell. We can’t put an exact date on it. However, once the Tennessee distribution center is complete and they start opening restaurants in that area, the potential will be very promising.
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