The state of New Mexico is famous for many great things, from its chili peppers and pecans to its diverse landscape. It’s a wonderful state, but it’s missing one thing: an In-N-Out restaurant. It’s a peculiar fact, especially considering that many of the states surrounding the Land of Enchantment have at least two of the popular restaurants. So when will In-N-Out Burger expand to New Mexico? The answer is a little complicated. Today, we’ll tell you what it would take to have an In-N-Out in the state and how long it may take for the residents to see one in their state.
What’s the Deal with In-N-Out Burger?
Many people ask themselves, “when will In-N-Out Burger expand to New Mexico?” because they’ve likely heard how great the restaurant can be. Citizens in the state don’t have to drive terribly far to visit one of the restaurants. That’s because word has spread fast about In-N-Out, and it usually only takes one visit for people to be hooked.
In-N-Out started back in 1948, and it was famous from the start for being one of the first burger joints in California. The owners are also credited for inventing one of the first speaker systems that allowed customers to order from their cars. While many fast food restaurants have huge menus with many options, In-N-Out sets itself apart by having a very simple menu. There’s only three main options (cheeseburger, hamburger, hamburger with two patties) and fries, soda, and milkshakes.
The other reason that In-N-Out is so popular is that they pride themselves on only using the freshest ingredients, and patrons who order burgers and fries can see them get cut and prepared right in front of their eyes.
Where Are In-N-Out Restaurants Located Now?
When we say that there are states surrounding New Mexico that have at least a few In-N-Out restaurants, we’re not kidding. Currently, there are In-N-Out restaurants in 279 cities in America. At this point, there are 394 locations. It may seem like the restaurants are all over the country, but they’re really only located in seven states. The states containing a restaurant include:
- California (271 locations)
- Nevada (21 locations)
- Arizona (35 locations)
- Utah (12 locations)
- Texas (41 locations)
- Oregon (4 locations)
- Colorado (8 locations)
A look at the U.S. map will show that many of the states surrounding New Mexico currently have In-N-Out restaurants. Neighboring Texas has 41 locations around the state, and some of them are very close to the New Mexico border. Utah also has a number of restaurants, as does Arizona and Colorado, so New Mexico residents are likely aware of the restaurant chain.
How Does In-N-Out Choose Its Restaurant Locations?
While the location of the restaurants may seem sporadic, there are reasons why In-N-Out restaurants are located in certain states. The general rule that the company sets forth is that every restaurant must be within 300-600 miles of an In-N-Out distribution center. That’s because they insist on those fresh ingredients, and they don’t want to depend on trucks driving from across the country to get them. Currently, distribution centers are located in:
- Colorado Springs, Colorado
- Dallas, Texas
- Draper, Utah
- Phoenix, Arizona
- Lathrop, California
- Baldwin Park, California
In early 2023, it was announced that a new distribution center would be constructed in Franklin, Tennessee. It will start construction in 2024, and it should be complete by 2026. Once the project is finished, the company will start opening restaurants in the state. That location is too far away from New Mexico, but it’s a sign that the company is willing to keep expanding. During a press conference announcing the new Tennessee location, the owner, Lynsi Snyder-Ellingson, said that they get requests from new states all the time to open In-N-Out restaurants and that others will be included in an expansion plan eventually.
However, with that said, expansion to New Mexico is already possible. Another look at the map will show that several of these distribution centers are within the prerequisite 600-mile radius. The Dallas facility is around 550 miles from the heart of New Mexico. Phoenix, Arizona is also about 500 miles away. So, that rule alone shows that it’s possible that In-N-Out will expand to New Mexico at any time after the production of the Tennessee factory. It may just take 5-10 years or more.
Why In-N-Out Should Come to New Mexico
In addition to the fact that many cities within New Mexico are well within the required 600 miles of a distribution center, there are other reasons In-N-Out should open its doors there. One of them is that there’s already a potential built-in customer base. Since many New Mexico residents realize that they could drive only a number of hours to get to an In-N-Out in another state, they know how good the food is. So, they’re not strangers to the brand.
Plus, as of the numbers in 2021, there’s just over two million people living in the state. With that many, even some that don’t yet know about In-N-Out would likely see the restaurant and want to stop in. Also, with two million people in the state, there’s also a fairly large candidate pool if the restaurants needed to hire.
Another factor working in New Mexico’s favor is that in an interview back in 2018, In-N-Out President Lynsi Snyder-Ellingson hinted at the fact that since the then-new distribution center in Colorado was within the applicable distance from New Mexico, they could potentially expand there in the future.
What’s Working Against New Mexico?
While a potential expansion into New Mexico has always been possible, it’s far from a sure thing. In comments reported in 2022, Mike Abbate, the assistant vice president of real estate and development stated pretty clearly that although they knew that there were some wonderful communities in New Mexico, they didn't have any immediate plans to open stores there at that time.
The other factor working against New Mexico is that the state doesn't have a lot of major cities, so there are fewer places for the company to set up shop. According to the numbers, they like to go to cities with a population per restaurant of 145k citizens or more, and that’s just not happening very often in New Mexico.
Other Famous Restaurants Not Yet In New Mexico
Believe it or not, In-N-Out is not the only famous restaurant chain that has yet to set up in New Mexico. Here are a few other favorites that should make their way to the state.
- Bojangles – They serve biscuits, chicken, and other tasty comfort food. The only problem is that they’re mostly located in the East, so it may be a while for this one.
- Portillo's – They’re famous for their burgers, hotdogs, and fries. They’re a favorite of folks in Illinois and other midwest states, but they’re not yet in New Mexico.
- Tim Hortons – This restaurant started out as a coffee shop, but it has since expanded. However, they’re not in New Mexico.
- Cook Out – This is a restaurant like Sonic, which is a chain with restaurants currently in New Mexico. Customers drive up and eat in their cars. There are not any Cook Outs in New Mexico yet.
- Biscuitville – Mostly located in the South, Biscuitville makes biscuits fresh every 15 minutes, and they have many varieties, but they aren’t making them in New Mexico.
- Friendly's – This is a great ice cream shop in the East. Maybe one day they’ll make their way to New Mexico.
- Zaxby's – They’re famous for their chicken wings, fried chicken sandwiches, fried pickles, and other southern staples. The question is when they'll make their way to New Mexico.
- Shake Shack – As the name suggests, they serve shakes and burgers. It’s a great chain that will hopefully someday get to New Mexico.
So, when will In-N-Out Burger expand to New Mexico? The answer is not so clear. However, the possibility is more likely due to the existence of several distribution centers in the surrounding regions. It’s surely something to get excited about, but the citizens of New Mexico will need to wait a bit longer.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©SweetBabeeJay/ via Getty Images.