Name: Carl Van Fleet
Job: Vice president of planning and development
Business: In-N-Out Burger
What they said then: In July 2010, the former Sizzler restaurant in Arroyo Grande was demolished to make way for a new In-NOut Burger drive-through.
The Irvine-based restaurant chain obtained a permit to build a 3,265-square-foot outlet with outdoor patio dining. It opened in the Five Cities Center on West Branch Street the following November.
The company has operated a location in Atascadero since 1994. The Arroyo Grande restaurant was the 250th opened by the family-owned burger chain.
What he says now: It may have taken In-N-Out 16 years to open a second location in San Luis Obispo County, but it might not have to wait that long for a third, said Carl Van Fleet in a recent email interview.
“We don’t have any specific sites that we are pursuing in the SLO County area right now,” added the vice president of planning of development. “But our real estate team is always looking, so that could change in the near future.”
Now with 263 locations, In-N-Out expanded into its fifth state, Texas, earlier this year.
“We’ve always grown the company at a slow, controlled rate and that won’t change,” Van Fleet said. “Our average store manager has been with us for over 13 years and they all worked their way up through the ranks. A faster growth rate might cause that experience level to shrink over time.”
The Snyder family that owns In-N-Out has no plans to go public or franchise, according to the company’s website. The chain declines to share any sales or other financial information.
“We remain focused on the same things that our founders were focused on in 1948,” the vice president said. Even the menu hasn’t changed since that time, In-N-Out boasts.
It touts freshness — no microwaves or freezers are used — as well as cleanliness and friendly service as its main customer draws.
One year after opening, the Arroyo Grande location benefits from being in a retail center, as well as its freeway access and visibility.
With its opening, In-N-Out doubled its work force countywide to 100 people, working full- and part-time. Starting wage is $10 per hour.
“We probably get a few more freeway travelers in Arroyo Grande and Atascadero than we do at some of our other sites,” Van Fleet added, “but that’s about the only difference.”