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Is In-N-Out Conservative?

The burger that just leveled up was already a superior sandwich.

After one brave In-N-Out burger location in San Francisco refused to enforce the city’s vaccine mandate on its diners, conservatives started flocking to the chain to support the restaurant.

The city health department shut down the iconic burger chain’s San Francisco location last week, prompting In-N-Out’s chief legal and business officer Arnie Wensinger to tell the San Francisco Chronicle: “We refuse to become the vaccination police for any government.”

Always ahead of the curve, San Francisco has been requiring patrons to show proof of vaccination at most indoor businesses since August—including bars, restaurants, gyms and large events. Los Angeles, another hub for In-N-Out, is not far behind, with its own vaccine mandate set to begin on November 4. The San Francisco Department of Public Health shut down the restaurant because employees “were not preventing the entry of Customers who were not carrying proper vaccination documentation,” according to a statement from In-N-Out.

The company has since paid two fines for refusing to enforce the order, but has reopened its Fisherman’s Wharf location for drive-through and outdoor dining. Meanwhile, another In-N-Out in Contra Costa County was also closed for failing to check customers’ vaccine status.

One customer, Michelle Woolard, told a local news station: “I think it’s horrible and it’s government overreach. We are eating here tonight because we want to support In-n-Out.”

Wensinger called it “unreasonable, invasive, and unsafe” to ask staff to “segregate customers into those who may be served and those who may not.” Because, yes. Yes it is.

As The American Conservative associate editor Declan Leary described recently, devotion to fast food chains is often disappointing, to say the least, even among the brands that aren’t obnoxiously woke like Starbucks. Chick-Fil-A is no beacon of Christian values, and McDonalds, though it has shown some promise by refusing to get involved in race-based activism, still supports LGBTQ+ causes and fries its fries in canola oil. Yes, I said it.

Is In-N-Out actually worthy of the praise?

Started as a family business in Balwdin Park, California, the fast food chain certainly has the roots to contend for the slot. Not to mention, its burger has been a cult classic for good reason, in a large part thanks to the brand’s commitment to fresh, local ingredients. This commitment gives In-N-Out a unique, twofold market advantage: a better-tasting burger than almost any other fast food chain and exclusivity to the western half of the county, meaning it’s not just a delicious dining experience, it’s also a pilgrimage for the loyal devoted.

The brand is also one of the only fast food chains in America to have achieved its success without departing from the original company vision: a simple menu, fresh ingredients, Christian values, and a damn good burger.

Can In-N-Out be more than just a damn good burger? Does it need to be? Either way, the company that prints Bible verses on its pink lemonade cups and douses its patties in Thousand Island dressing is surely doing something right on multiple levels. Maybe it’s not the perfect trad dining experience, but at least it’s pushing back for the sake of normal people. Will other restaurants follow?

about the author

Carmel Richardson is the 2021-2022 editorial fellow at The American Conservative. She received her B.A. from Hillsdale College in political philosophy with a minor in journalism. She firmly believes that the backroads are better than the interstate, and though she currently resides in Northern Virginia, her home state will always be Tennessee.

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