A Behind-the-Counter Look at the Fast-Food Chain That Breaks All the Rules
By Stacy Perman
(HarperBusiness, Hardcover, 9780061346712, 352pp.)
Publication Date: April 2009
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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The untold story of the renegade burger chain that evokes a passionate following unlike any other
In fast-food corporate America, In-N-Out Burger stands apart. Begun in a tiny shack in the shadow of World War II, this family-owned chain has steadfastly refused to franchise or be sold. It is a testament to old-fashioned values and reminiscent of a simpler time when people, loyalty, and a freshly made, juicy hamburger meant something. Over time, In-N-Out Burger has become nothing less than a cultural institution that can lay claim to an insanely loyal following.
Perman uses her investigative skills to uncover the story of a real American success story. It is not only a tale of a unique and profitable business that exceeds all expectations, but of a family's struggle to maintain a sustainable pop empire against the industry it helped pioneer, internal tensions, and a bitter lawsuit that threatened to bring the company to the brink.
This is a lesson in a counterintuitive approach to doing business that places quality, customers, and employees over the riches promised by rapid expansion. In-N-Out Burger is a keenly observed narrative that explores the evolution of a California fad that transformed into an enduring cult of popularity; it is also the story of the conflicted, secretive, and ultimately tragic Snyder family who cooked a billion burgers and hooked a zillion fans. As the story of In-N-Out Burger unfolds, so too does the cultural history of America as influenced and shaped by car culture and fast food.
Stacy Perman is an award-winning journalist and author. A former writer and correspondent for BusinessWeek and Time, her work has appeared in Los Angeles magazine, the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, and many other publications. Born in Los Angeles, she currently lives in New York.
“[An] entertaining corporate history....Perman’s reporting is considerable.”
“Stacy Perman’s illuminating new book, In-N-Out Burger, is an absorbing case study of how a family business came to be at the center of its own cheerful cult.... [This] should be required reading for family business owners, alongside Rich Cohen’s Sweet and Low and Thomas Mann’s Buddenbrooks.”
-Fortune Small Business
“At last, the great American small business story gets told. It is a reassuring read in uncertaintimes, reminding business owners to listen to customers, do what you love, and havefun while you do it.”
-Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group
“This book grills up an enjoyable read for both avid foodies and novice diners alike! Perman’s sneak peek into the fascinating history of In-N-Out is as good as the delicious burgers themselves, and that’s saying a lot!”
-Mario Batali, chef and author of Molto Italiano
“When fast food restaurants tried to locate in Fishermans Wharf, ourlocal merchants were opposed to every one of them—except In-N-Out.Because every meal is fresh and made from scratch, In-N-Out is in aclass by itself.”
-San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom
“Thanks to Stacy Perman’s book, the term ‘soulful fast food’ is no longer an oxymoron. Her recounting of the In-N-Out story is one of passion, good intentions, remarkable success and treachery that transcends the burger world to become a tale that is vivid Americana.”
-Jane and Michael Stern, Roadfood.com
“Did you ever wonder why the people behind the counter at In-N-Out are always smiling? Now I know thanks to Stacy’s amazing book.”
-George Motz, filmmaker and author of Hamburger America
“ Wow! Stacy Perman’s In-N-Out Burger isn’t just a good book about the rise of a fast-food chain—it’s an exciting saga about a family who created a profitable company that serves great food and still treats its customers and employees decently. What a great story!”
-ANDREW F. SMITH, author ofAndrew F. Smith, author of Hamburger: A Global History
“The tumultuous history of how one family and the business they fought to control turned the hamburger into the culinary symbol of a century....Told with the same fresh approach that has turned In-N-Out Burger into an American institution, Perman keeps us wanting more.”
-Tilar J. Mazzeo, author of The Widow Clicquot