Landed in Las Vegas from NYC this afternoon and made a pilgrimage to In-N-Out Burger. The legendary In-N-Out Burger.  Probably as famous for their menu as for their resistance to franchising.  And not just to franchising, but to growing beyond a tight area where the family can exercise control over ops, service and customer experience.

The restaurant was packed.  I was order #70.  When I got my change from the happy staffer behind the register the loudspeaker announced order #17 was available.  Cabs were trolling the parking lot to pick up tourists and bring them back to the Strip.  Amazing.

It is often hard to resist the siren song of growth.  More stores, more sales, more profits.  But despite clearly having a replicable model and unbelievable customer loyalty, they have stuck to their knitting.  Vegas is about as far west as they go.  Could In-N-Out Burger add a hundred stores?  A thousands stores?  No question.  But while some of the pent up demand would be met, the mystique of In-N-Out would likely be lost.  I still love Five Guys but it is not the same now that I have my choice of stores.  And ask Krispy Kreme how that global expansion worked out for them. 

In-N-Out Burger is special, and control and scarcity are big parts of what keeps it that way.  I for one am happy to trade a regular In & Out fix for an annual pilgrimage.