Why You Can Never Go To The Original In-N-Out Restaurant

California-based fast-food chain In-N-Out Burger is known for its no-frills array of affordable burgers, fries, soft drinks, and milkshakes, as well as its "not-so-secret" menu. If you live in the Golden State, you likely know where your nearest In-N-Out is, and you might even have your go-to order memorized by heart. You're also in luck if you reside in six other states — Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, and Utah — where you can also order the chain's famed animal-style fries, per its website.

From humble beginnings, In-N-Out Burger's founders Esther and Harry Snyder operated a small burger stand, only 10 square feet in size, along a busy roadside in Baldwin Park in 1948. Offering up quality burgers with all the fresh fixings was a priority for the owners, per the Los Angeles Times, and burgers are still the focal point for the family-owned chain. If you're curious about visiting the chain's original location from back in 1948, however, you won't be able to order food there.

What really happened to the original location?

The original In-N-Out Burger stand in Baldwin Park was forced to shut down due to a factor outside the founders' control: the construction of the 10 Freeway through Los Angeles, per the Los Angeles Times. But the Snyders decided to build a replacement drive-thru, and they didn't have to go far to do it. The new In-N-Out Burger location was constructed just 75 yards away from the original, and it had a similar structure to the one we're familiar with today.

The story doesn't stop there, as this replacement location was abandoned and fenced off in November of 2004, when the Snyders opened a larger version of the restaurant farther away. The defunct eatery was originally supposed to become a museum to preserve In-N-Out's history, so Baldwin Park city officials and residents were surprised when the company got a permit to demolish it in 2011. 

"When you think of Baldwin Park, you think of In-N-Out burgers," councilwoman Susan Rubio told the Los Angeles Times. "This is part of our history. ... My preference would've been preserving a bit of the old." At the time, the chain's vice president of planning and development announced that the chain was considering turning the demolished building into a replica of the 1948 burger stand. This happened in 2014, per the In-N-Out Burger website. You can still visit it today — but it's a photo-op only, not an operating restaurant.

In-N-Out Burger was a drive-thru pioneer

While you can't visit the original Baldwin Park location of In-N-Out Burger, you'll still feel the chain's fast-food legacy any time you visit a drive-thru. In-N-Out burger pioneered a major fast-food invention: the two-way speaker that lets customers order from their cars in drive-thrus. That's right: You have the California-based chain to thank for all of those late-night snack runs.

And that's not all — AAA reports that back in 1948, In-N-Out Burger gave customers sheets of butcher paper to use as makeshift placemats while they ate, to avoid spilling sauce or other burger drippings in their cars. How genius a move is that?

In-N-Out Burger can't lay claim to the invention of the drive-thru itself, though. As AAA notes, a restaurant named Red's Giant Hamburg reportedly used drive-thru service in 1947. Still, it's hard to imagine the modern drive-thru without that two-way intercom system.

In-N-Out's founding family has strong Christian beliefs

Chick-fil-A isn't the only fast-food chain with ties to Christianity. Richard Snyder, son of In-N-Out Burger founders Esther and Harry Snyder, started the practice of printing the fast-food chain's cups and wrappers with Bible verses, per Today. "He told me, 'It's just something I want to do,'" In-N-Out Burger spokesperson Carl Van Fleet told USA Today in 2005.

Today explains that Lynsi Snyder, granddaughter of Esther and Harry and the current owner of In-N-Out Burger, is also a practicing Christian. "I finally found that the deep need in my heart can only be filled by Jesus and my identity in him," Snyder told The Christian Post in 2019. She also told the outlet that she'd added Bible verses to more In-N-Out packaging items than the ones originally set forth by her uncle.

While the original In-N-Out Burger location is closed for business, fans will still get a taste of the Snyders' vision with details like the Bible verses on the fast-food chain's packaging, as well as the drive-thru speaker system. In-N-Out Burger is a fast-food pioneer, even if its original location is no longer in operation.