The great state of Idaho is known for many things, from its spectacular schools and fancy hotels to its incredible potato production. However, though the state is famous for many things, there’s one thing it lacks: an In-N-Out restaurant. Though there are many In-N-Out Burger locations in the states near Idaho, the company still has not opened its doors to ID. What’s the big deal? When will In-N-Out finally open in Idaho, and what cities would the company choose as their first two landing spots? Let’s dig into this exciting mystery.
Why the Idea of In-N-Out is So Exciting
Most people reading this have likely been to an In-N-Out restaurant at some point, and if that's true, you likely know how good the burger joint can be.
The chain, which Harry and Esther Snyder started back in 1948, has been a staple of fast food in the West ever since they opened their doors. Back then, things were simpler, as the restaurant only had three menu options. What continues to make the restaurant so great is that continued focus on simplicity. When you walk into an In-N-Out restaurant, you’re faced with three options: a hamburger, a hamburger with two patties, and a cheeseburger. Other than that, it’s mostly just fries, shakes, and soft drinks.
Another thing that sets In-N-Out apart from its competitors is the fact that they absolutely insist on cooking with only the freshest ingredients. The cooks don’t hide in the back while the customers are left to wonder what’s really in the food. Instead, at In-N-Out, you can watch them cook the food right there. You can see them grill the burgers, cut and prepare the fries out of actual potatoes, and prepare the shakes. It’s a great system that people seem to love.
In-N-Out is So Close to Idaho That They Can Taste It
The residents of Idaho are also likely aware of In-N-Out because many of the states in the nearby area have at least a few of these restaurants. Currently, there are 394 In-N-Out locations in 279 cities. All of those locations are only in seven states: California, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, and Oregon. Every one of those states is West of the Mississippi and two of them border Idaho. That means that residents of Oklahoma could be a short road trip away from their favorite burger restaurant.
It’s not just by chance that all current In-N-Out restaurants are West of the Mississippi. There’s a method to the madness, and it’s based around their distribution centers. There’s a rule at In-N-Out that every restaurant that’s built must be less than 600 miles from a distribution center. Currently, distribution centers are in:
- Phoenix, Arizona
- Draper, Utah
- Baldwin Park, California
- Lathrop, California
- Colorado Springs, Colorado
- Dallas, Texas
The reason for this rule comes back to In-N-Out’s insistence on only using fresh ingredients. They don’t want to wait days for the food to be delivered from across the country and run the risk that the food will go bad or that they won’t get it in time. They also want to be sure that they have the necessary supplies (napkins, cups, etc) on demand.
When Is In-N-Out Headed to Idaho?
So, when will In-N-Out finally open in Idaho? The answer is that you won’t need to wait much longer.
Currently, construction is underway in the city of Meridian, ID. More specifically, it's located near the intersection of Eagle Rd. and Fairview. Recent pictures show the first restaurant taking shape, and it’s getting people excited. The restaurant should be just under 4,000 square feet and have space for 84 guests inside and 32 in an outdoor seating area. The drive-thru will have a 41-vehicle queue, which isn’t too surprising if you’ve ever driven past an existing In-N-Out restaurant, which always seems to have a line of cars going around the property.
However, while the building is under construction, it doesn’t mean that the citizens of Meridian are much closer to getting their burgers. According to Denny Warnick, the In-N-Out Chief Operating Officer, they pledged in 2020 to ensure the restaurant is open within five years. That means residents may need to wait closer to 2025 to get their fix. However, those plans could always be pushed up.
Where Would They Open a Second Location?
The second most obvious place to go would be Boise, which is the most populous city in the state. And guess what? Plans are underway to go there as well. As of the most recent reports, there are plans to construct the In-N-Out at the Boise Towne Square Mall. The idea is to take the place of the existing Pier 1 Imports store that’s now closed. The company plans to demolish that building to make room for the In-N-Out.
That restaurant will also be just shy of 4,000 square feet and will have indoor seating for up to 74 people. The drive-thru will have two lanes and a 33-vehicle queue. Once construction starts on that restaurant, it will likely take six weeks to complete. However, there is no tentative date for when that construction will start.
Both of these locations make sense. Currently, there are about 240,000 folks in Boise and about 120,000 in Meridian. Both cities also fit the 600-mile rule. Both Boise and Meridian are only about 350 miles from the distribution center in Draper, Utah so that they would get fresh food in a day, and the customers would be happy.
Where Else Should In-N-Out Go?
Every other state with In-N-Out restaurants has at least four locations, so it’s safe to assume that if the existing restaurants are successful, they’ll build more in Idaho. But where would those locations be?
While it’s complete speculation at this point, another landing spot could be Twin Falls, which is a beautiful area with over 53,000 residents. This location would be even closer to the existing In-N-Out distribution centers. There’s tons of beauty to see in the county, including the gorgeous waterfalls, so there are reasons for tourists to come. After seeing the beauty of the area, they could go to In-N-Out.
Another potential city is Nampa, which is Idaho’s 3rd most populous city. As of the 2020 census, there were over 100,000 people, representing a fairly stable customer base. It’s an area with great schools, families, and other businesses that would fit great with the burger chain.
Finally, the city of Caldwell could also be a nice place to see an In-N-Out restaurant. It’s considered to be within the Boise metropolitan area, so plenty of people are coming and going. The existence of an In-N-Out might even make more people want to make their way to the emerging town of Caldwell.
At this point, this is entirely speculation. When a local website asked the rep from In-N-Out which town would be next, he said that they are still in the early stages of planning and did not give any further information.
Other Idaho Restaurants To Try In The Meantime
While Idaho residents wait for In-N-Out to open its doors, they have many other tasty and unique restaurants in the state.
Rupe’s Burgers – Located in Blackfort, this is a simple restaurant, but it serves some of the best burgers and fries in the state. There are many different burgers to try, and you can wash them down with a great shake.
The Sandwich Tree – This is an Idaho Falls staple. The restaurant can be easy to miss while driving by, but they sell some of the best sandwiches in the state.
Boise Fry Company – This Idaho restaurant is a place that you need to try at least once. Instead of being a side dish, the fries are the main meal, and you can enjoy them with a massive menu of seasonings and dipping sauces. They also sell incredible burgers.
So, when will In-N-Out finally open in Idaho? While we don’t know an exact date, the answer is relatively soon. The construction of the new buildings is very promising, and it won’t be long before the residents of Idaho start enjoying the fresh and delicious In-N-Out food.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©samroundy/Shutterstock.com.