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Thursday, November 11, 2021

A willingness to let Floridians die of COVID-19 isn't enough to get an In-N-Out in the state

Posted By on Thu, Nov 11, 2021 at 4:09 PM

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It would appear that the fast-food chain with Bible verses on the packaging is not interested in relocating to the “Fauci-free” peninsula of the South.

Yesterday, In-N-Out officially declined an invitation to move its entire operation to Florida, following weeks of pandering from Gov. Ron DeSantis and CFO Jimmy Patronis after the company had a high-profile spat with California health departments over proof-of-vaccination requirements.

According to a statement from In-N-Out Burger’s Chief Legal and Business Officer Arnie Wensinger, owner Lynsi Snyder-Ellingson had a phone call with DeSantis and stated that she and her fresh, never-frozen beef have zero plans to relocate or even expand to Florida.

“On Monday, November 8, In-N-Out Burger President Lynsi Snyder-Ellingson had a phone call with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. The phone call was at the request of Gov. DeSantis and the primary purpose was to establish a business relationship. During that call, Gov. DeSantis graciously invited In-N-Out Burger to do business in the state of Florida. While we are thankful for the gracious invitation, In-N-Out Burger has no plans or intention to expand operations or move its corporate headquarters to Florida,” said Wensinger.

If you're just catching up on this story, last month Wensinger pushed the chain into the national COVID-19 discourse after stating that In-N-Out will not require customers to show vaccination cards to dine indoors.

At the time, Wensinger responded to the rule with a statement that read, "We refuse to become the vaccination police for any government. We fiercely disagree with any government dictate that forces a private company to discriminate against customers who choose to patronize their business. This is a clear government overreach."

In the weeks that followed, Florida’s two hungriest burger boys, Patronis and DeSantis, lobbied for the chain to relocate to Florida, even getting notable authority-hater Kid Rock to chime in.

"As a small business owner who grew up in a family-owned restaurant, I know how hard it is to a profit on a good day, let alone when your own government is working to crush your business with overreaching mandates,” said Patronis in a letter to Snyder-Ellingson.

Despite letters and nonstop social media posts, all of this was a giant waste of time, since a quick internet search would’ve likely revealed a 2018 Forbes interview in which Snyder-Ellingson declared that In-N-Out would never expand east of Texas “in her lifetime.”

Not to mention, as food website Eat This, Not That! pointed out earlier this year, In-N-Out will likely "never" expand to the East Coast, mostly because of logistical reasons.

"[A]ll In-N-Out restaurants must be located within 300 miles of an In-N-Out meat distribution center," said author Owen Duff. "As of 2018, there were only two such distribution centers in existence: one in California, and the other in Texas."

Of course, DeSantis and Patronis know this, but they also know the value of serving fresh, hot political red meat to every media outlet hungry for a “What if Florida got an In-N-Out?” headline.

Still, while DeSantis may have failed to get an In-N-Out within a thousand miles of his state, you have to give him credit for getting a new gas station in Daytona Beach.

This story originally appeared in Creative Loafing Tampa Bay.

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