In-N-Out Burger, the extremely popular and fanatically-followed California-based burger chain, has long remained a staple of the western United States.
But on Wednesday, May 11, history was made. The first two In-N-Out Burger restaurants east of Arizona opened up in Frisco and Allen, Texas.
The response has been overwhelming thus far. Many customers camped overnight in the parking lot on Tuesday, hoping to be the first to taste the legendary burger, while others waited for hours in the lengthy drive-thru line, which stretched over two miles during the lunchtime rush on Wednesday.
"I went to the Frisco [location] at midnight last night hoping to bypass the crazy lunch hour line I'd seen on YouTube," James Sullivan, a North Texas resident, told HuffPost. He waited a while before an In-N-Out employee approached his car and told him they'd unfortunately have to send him home. "She said there was a three-hour wait."
Nick Rallo, the web editor for the Dallas Observer, furthered news of the commotion in his area. "If you were to draw a Venn Diagram yesterday, one circle would be In-N-Out Burger, the other would be thunderstorms, and the middle would be everybody," he said. "You would think the pope was here."
Police officers directed traffic as the hordes of waiting customers led themselves in renditions of the In-N-Out Burger theme song. One woman cried real tears after she tasted her first Double Double, the iconic two-patty In-N-Out staple, and some even decked themselves in full In-N-Out Burger clothing, donning t-shirts and caps they'd ordered online.
The commotion is nothing new. The family-owned and operated In-N-Out corporation has long inspired a fervent cult following for their fresh, made-to-order burgers. Their mantra: Nothing is frozen, nothing is microwaved.
The company is so dedicated to this founding principal, in fact, that it recently opened a new distribution plant in Texas to house its beef production facilities, so the meat could be supplied locally.
Other local Texas burger chains are also paying attention. Whataburger, which has held the burger torch in North Texas for over 60 years, planned to welcome In-N-Out to the neighborhood with some southern hospitality. A representative will hand-deliver a gift of "orange cowboy boots" to the two new In-N-Out locations on Thursday.
“As two companies with similar principles," Joel Griffiths, Regional Director of Operations of Whataburger, said in a statement, "We look forward to a little friendly competition."
Though according to a piece from "D Magazine," In-N-Out actually sued Whataburger in 2000 after they referred to one of their burgers as a "Double-Double," a term In-N-Out had previously trademarked.
"We're a privately held company and wouldn't be able to discuss details," Griffiths said of the 2000 suit. "But I can tell you that the matter was settled a long time ago. We welcome them to Texas.”
North Texas also seems an appropriate fit for the expanding In-N-Out presence, considering its propensity of churches and Christian residents. In-N-Out's roots are largely Christian, and the chain even refers to bible verses on its food and drink items. "John 3:16" is printed in small text on the bottom of soda cups, milkshakes point to "Proverbs 3:5," and burger wrappers bear "Revelation 3:20."
Chad Selph, senior pastor at First Baptist Church of Allen, admires the strong positivity inherent to In-N-Out's message and plans to eat at the restaurant himself. "As soon as the lines die down," he said.
"As a pastor I’m grateful for their interest in sharing inspirational Bible verses on their packaging," Selph added. "They are living out Jesus’ call to be 'salt and light' in the world."
No In-N-Out spokesperson was available for comment on this story. According to a representative at the In-N-Out headquarters in California, all appropriate representatives were traveling home after spending Wednesday in Texas.
Other In-N-Out outposts in Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington, Irving and Garland, Texas, are slated to open in the coming months, but as of now, no plans exist to build other locations farther east.
Check out another video from the Frisco grand opening below:
UPDATE (5:05 p.m. EST): Carl Van Fleet, vice president of planning and development for In-N-Out Burger, confirmed to HuffPost that the company had been working on the Texas expansion for at least seven or eight years, and while they're very pleased with the results of the May 11 openings, they will not be expanding to other states any time soon.
"This is our fifth state, and we're not even considering a sixth at this time," he said. "We have other growth opportunities in our existing states that we're looking into."
(An earlier version of this story referred to In-N-Out as a "franchise," when it fact, it is not. It is a corporation.)