Who was the founder of In-N-Out Burger?

In-N-Out Burger is probably the most successful non-franchised business venture that is so popular on the American west coast despite serving only burgers, fries, and soda. It is widely known as the first drive-thru burger stand in California and a benchmark of food quality and customer-centeredness. Aside from this, In-N-Out Burger has the reputation of caring for its personnel, staying as one of the very few American food chains that pay their employees more than the state-prescribed minimum wage.

You might be wondering who was behind the popularity of In-N-Out Burger, the person who started what would grow to be a well-loved company that sells your favorite burgers and fries. His name is Harry Snyder.

Harry Snyder was an American businessman who founded In-N-Out Burger on October 22, 1948, with his wife, Esther. Their restaurant originally sold burgers, French fries, soft drinks, and milkshakes at the Baldwin Park in California, Los Angeles. It was located at the corner of Francisquito and Garvey avenues and was merely 10 feet in area.  

The Snyders worked hand-in-hand to realize their goal of serving customers with fresh food and efficient service. Harry woke up very early in the morning to buy meat and fresh ingredients at the market and prepared these by hand. He and his wife sold burgers and fries during the day, and at night, Harry worked in his garage to develop a unique two-way speaker that would allow their customers to order food without leaving their cars. Meanwhile, Esther did the accounting for their newly founded restaurant.

Expansion of In-N-Out Burger

Looking into the history of In-N-Out Burger, we can conclude that the restaurant owes its growth to the unique strategic plan of the Snyders. While their competitors were so eager to branch out, the Snyders focused on establishing all-out control of their business location. It even took them three years to open their second In-N-Out Burger outlet. The growing dependence of Californians on cars and the rising popularity of drive-thrus further pushed the Snyders to add more outlets in the California area. Their sons, Rich and Guy, worked in these restaurants, where they learned the trade of their family’s business.

Outstanding Customer-Service

During the 1960s, Harry Snyder showed the Americans how to provide excellent customer service. Most of the innovations he embraced were driven by customer requests, which In-N-Out Burger did not fail to heed.

In 1961, In-N-Out Burger introduced its signature Animal Style burger. This food is prepared by mustard-cooking the beef patty and adding pickle, grilled onions, and extra spread. The customers get to choose their hand-leafed lettuce and tomato. In this same year, Harry popularized the use of pink butcher paper as lap mats for customers who opt to eat in their cars. He later replaced this with printed mats that contained helpful information for customers.

In 1963, In-N-Out Burger began selling its trademarked “Double-Double” to respond to another request of its fans. This famous burger contains two beef patties and two slices of cheese. The Snyders also opened a patty-making facility that aimed to maintain In-N-Out Burger’s identity as a provider of quality food with fresh ingredients to a rapidly increasing number of customers. Harry supervised the selection and grinding of beef while Esther hand-formed the chuck into patties using a manual press.

Harry’s Treasured Stores

Harry Snyder treasured each of his In-N-Out Burger stores that he began a tradition of planting crossed palm trees in their locations in 1972. He took inspiration from one of his favorite movies entitled “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,” which featured characters racing to find treasures hidden under four palm trees.

Death of Harry Snyder

Harry Snyder continued supervising In-N-Out Burger until he succumbed to cancer on December 14, 1976. His 24-year-old son Rich took over as president of their growing company that already had 18 drive-thrus. Harry’s older son Guy served as the vice president, while Esther continued working in the accounting department.

During Rich’s stint as the president of In-N-Out Burger, the company experienced rapid growth, operating 93 restaurants by 1996. By the end of 2018, In-N-Out Burger already had 342 outlets that Harry’s only grandchild, Lynsi, currently owns.


The inspiring growth of In-N-Out Burger since its inception in 1948 is attributed to the commitment of Harry Snyder to giving his customers nothing but the freshest foods and best service. From developing a two-way speaker unit to make placing orders convenient for his customers to responding enthusiastically to his customers’ requests, Snyder showed that growing a company would be easier if only it puts the customers at the center of its operation.