If you’re like many people, you might dream of visiting Hawaii at some point during your life, and why shouldn’t you? This island paradise is known for many great things. There’s perfect weather, great restaurants, stellar schools, incredible hotels, and more. However, while it seems like Hawaii has it all, there is one thing that’s missing, and that’s an In-N-Out restaurant. This famous burger chain has yet to show up in Hawaii, but will that change soon? Will In-N-Out ever expand to Hawaii? Let’s look at the popularity of In-N-Out, where they are now, and the hurdles the state would have to get past to see a restaurant in their neck of the woods.
Here’s Why In-N-Out Could Make Hawaii Even Greater
Here at Moms Who Think, we’ve talked a lot about future locations where In-N-Out could have a presence, and in most of those states, people there have at least heard of the burger chain. However, that may not be the same in Hawaii. As a state separated from the mainland, many people there have not had the joy of biting into an In-N-Out burger. However, the food at this popular chain is just so good that the people of Hawaii simply need to have one on the island.
The chain, which opened its doors in Baldwin Park, California, back in 1948, has been making waves in the United States since the beginning. They have two things going for them. One is that they only cook their meals with the freshest ingredients, and customers can see their meals being prepared right in front of their eyes. They’re able to pull this off by only having three main items on the menu: a hamburger, a hamburger with two patties, and a cheeseburger. With fewer ingredients, the company can ensure that they’re not bogged down with unnecessary items.
The restaurant has had many accolades over the years. It’s been voted as one of the best places to work and has won many awards for its great food and service. It’s a treat that could make Hawaii the ultimate destination.
How Close is In-N-Out to Hawaii?
While there aren’t any In-N-Out restaurants in Hawaii, most of them are at least on the closer side of the country. There are currently 394 locations in 279 cities. At this point in time, those various restaurants are only in seven cities: California, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, and Oregon.
That puts one of the closest restaurants in Las Vegas, Nevada. Granted, while they do have the most there than any other city (14), that’s still countless miles and a boat or plane ride away from Hawaii. The company has been expanding as of late. Recent news was that new In-N-Out restaurants would be built in states where they’ve never been, including Idaho, New Mexico, and Tennessee. In fact, the move to Tennessee is the company’s first foray East of the Mississippi. However, that’s even further from Hawaii.s
The Key To Hawaii is the Distribution Centers
While having an In-N-Out Burger built in Hawaii seems like a no-brainer, they have to contend with the rules set forth by the burger giant. The company currently has a rule that they won’t set up any new restaurants that are not within 600 miles of one of their distribution centers. The rule is in place so that the trucks that deliver the food and supplies to the restaurants do not need to travel too far to get to any given restaurant. The ownership doesn't want the food to go bad and hurt the reputation of only selling the freshest menu items.
Current distribution centers are located in:
- Baldwin Park, California
- Phoenix, Arizona
- Lathrop, California
- Draper, Utah
- Colorado Springs, Colorado
- Dallas, Texas
There was recent news that the company would be starting construction on a new distribution center in Franklin, Tennessee. Once it’s complete, in 2026, they will start to open new restaurants in that state and other places within 600 miles of that center.
However, that rule will likely be the downfall of Hawaii for the foreseeable future. As it is, the state of Hawaii is about 2,286 miles from the mainland of the U.S. That’s at the very closest point, which is in Northern California near San Francisco. The closest In-N-Out distribution center to that is in Lathrop, California. So, even if that distance from California to Hawaii was driveable, it’s still likely 2,000 miles further than the management at In-N-Out would like it.
However, it’s not driveable. The food and supplies would need to be delivered by plane, or more likely, by boat. That would probably take far too long, and it would prohibit In-N-Out from selling the freshest food at that restaurant.
What’s Working In Hawaii’s Favor?
With all that said, will In-N-Out ever expand to Hawaii? The answer is not clear but there’s more going against them at this point than what’s going for them. The state is just too far away from the distribution center. Still, that doesn’t mean that all is lost. People thought the company would never expand East of the Mississippi, but they’re doing it, so anything is possible.
There are several reasons why In-N-Out management should consider opening a restaurant in Hawaii. As of 2021, there are close to 1.5 million people living in Hawaii. That’s not bad for an island. Plus, it’s a lot of hungry mouths that would likely be excited that the chain would be in their area. Plus, with that many people, there’d also be a decent pool of qualified workers to take the role of managers and order-takers at the new facility.
On top of the number of people already living in Hawaii, there’s also a huge number of people that go there on vacation. During 2022, more than nine million people visited the island during their getaways. That’s a lot of additional customers that could be filling up the restaurants. Plus, many of those people would likely be from the West Coast, and they already love In-N-Out. That would mean an instant customer base that could make the restaurants a major profit.
However, with all of that said, the company has been essentially silent about a potential move to Hawaii. There hasn’t even been many rumors, so that doesn’t bode well for possible expansion.
Other Chain Restaurants Not Represented in Hawaii
Believe it or not, even though it’s a tourism hot spot, there are many other noteworthy chain restaurants that have yet to open doors in Hawaii. Hopefully, over time, they’ll reconsider.
Chipotle – This Mexican grill serves some of the best burritos, tacos, and bowls in America, but they have yet to set up in Hawaii.
Panera Bread – There are some Panera Bread products available in local grocery stores, but there’s no actual restaurant in Hawaii yet.
Waffle House – For folks in the south, Waffle House is a staple that they see or visit often. Especially considering that there are more than 1,900 locations. However, Hawaii is among the 25 states without one.
Del Taco – It’s like the Taco Bell of the West. They serve tasty tacos, burritos, and other Mexican classics for great prices. However, the people in Hawaii are yet to have one.
Steak ‘N Shake – As the name suggests, they serve steakburgers and a wide variety of milkshakes. They also sell hot dogs, chicken, and other favorites. They are not in Hawaii as of yet.
Peet’s Coffee – Although coffee is a major part of Hawaii’s economy, they don’t have all of the coffee shops, and Peet’s Coffee is one that’s missing.
Cook Out – This restaurant is primarily on the East Coast. They sell incredible shakes. Plus, there are burgers, BBQ, and more. Maybe one day they’ll show up in Hawaii.
So, will In-N-Out ever expand to Hawaii? The answer is unclear, but anything is possible. It certainly wouldn’t be the worst move for the company. However, it would make providing the freshest food possible much more difficult. In the meantime, the residents of Hawaii will need to be content with the beautiful weather and white, sandy beaches.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Theodore Trimmer/Shutterstock.com.