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Farewell, Esther Snyder, Founder Of In-N-Out Burger

Esther Snyder, the founder of In-N-Out Burger, passed away Friday. She was 86. In-N-Out Burger, as many of you likely know, is the cult burger chain on the West coast that was born in the same cradle of post-WWII America's love affair with the road as many of our most familiar U.S. brands. But In-N-Out always did things a little differently, focusing ruthlessly on the customer and adopting a slow-growth strategy that's the very antithesis of McDonald's and virtually all the other burger chains that came of age alongside the interstate highway system.

In-N-Out's vice president of operations, Mark Taylor, will take the helm as president. Companies often lose their way when the founder's no longer there to guide the company. That relentless focus on customers gets lip service while growth is pursued. Here's hoping that Taylor doesn't lose sight of the value of In-N-Out's mystery and its devotion to customers. This is especially true for those of us who don't live out West. How many burger chains are destinations outside of their region to tourists? In-N-Out doesn't really talk to the press, has kept the chain manageable in size, and it's worked. So keep Esther Snyder in your thoughts, both the next time you go to In-N-Out and while you're running your business.

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  • brian kish

    Mark Taylor was not given anything. He tirelessly worked his way to the top, at an in-n-out store. He became the store manager then district manager long before becoming president. In-n-out is in very good hands with Mark and will continue to be, as long as he has anything to do with it.

    Good luck Mark.

  • Denise Wymore

    I just visited my first In-N-Out Burger. I was speaking about brand at a conference in Palm Springs. Someone at the conference MADE me go to In-N-Out. I'm not much for fast food -- it's changed my life.

    It's nice to see a company that still has values, great food and incredible customer service. I was asked the most amazing question as I was ordering in the drive-through. "Will you be eating this in your car?"

    In my 45 years of living, I've never been asked that question. "Why yes, I WILL be eating this in my car," I replied. When I pulled up to pay they presented me with a gorgeous burger with the paper already rolled back and placed it in a nice tray that I could put on the seat next to me.

    That's why I'm telling everyone to visit In-N-Out. It's the little things that matter.

  • Mark Alan Effinger

    We were both in our late teens.
    She was the most beautiful girl in the world.

    She sent me a Greyhound ticket from Portland, Oregon to Anaheim. Walked off the platform with a big smile.

    Our first stop? Her fave: In-N-Out Burger.

    Two Double-Doubles.

    I lost Krista Dawn Lewis to a local guy a few months later. What a babe. Broke my heart.

    But I gained a hearty appreciation for a company that builds a super-quality product and has enough tongue-in-cheek humor to make a schoolboy blush.

    Becoming a man was never a more delightful proposition. The fries and shake were pretty darn good, too.

    I'd send the newly appointed President Mark Taylor the Jim Collins library and hope he's more Steve Jobs than Sam Walton. My best to the family, and to the company.

    You folks changed many a life with your burgers and your double entendre.

    Mark Alan Effinger

  • alan goldberg

    growing up in the san gabriel valley i met mrs. snyders son who i believe died many years ago..but anyways,,, i wish i could convince them to franchise!! i would love to take in/ out to asia... still the #1 fast food hamburger ever created,, God Bless the Snyder family... they didn't sell out to big corporations

  • Sean

    I tip my hat with burger in hand...
    I find my self craving In N Out burgers and fries all the time. The unfortunate thing is that I live in Tulsa, OK and my trips to California once a year are the only times I get to enjoy these incredibly delicious burgers and fresh cut fries...

    God bless Esther Snyder.

    In some ways I want them to expand. Selectively anyway.

    But I still enjoy looking forward to that rare treat.