Steven John – Monday
In mid-October, the one and only In-N-Out Burger in the city of San Francisco was temporarily shut down. The closure came amid the restaurant’s refusal to check the vaccination status of in-store diners despite the Health Department’s citywide mandate to do so.
Now it has become clear that the San Francisco In-N-Out Burger closure—in-store dining has not returned to the location, though takeaway service has—is not an isolated issue. Just last week, the chain decided to shut down indoor dining at five more restaurants, signaling that it wasn’t planning on sticking to the mandate and saw this as the only solution to avoid repeated citations. All five stores are located in California’s Contra Costa County, according to KALW.
According to The Los Angeles Times, the Contra Costa County local health authorities briefly closed one of the locations on October 26 for refusal to check the vaccine status of customers. The agency was later notified of In-N-Out’s preemptive decision to shut down the local dining rooms in the area and said in a statement it wanted to “thank In-N-Out Burger for coming up with a solution that helps keep our community safe.”
In a previous statement, the chain has outright refused to check customers’ vaccine status.
“As a Company, In-N-Out Burger strongly believes in the highest form of customer service and to us that means serving all Customers who visit us and making all Customers feel welcome,” said Arnie Wensinger, the chain’s chief legal and business officer. “We refuse to become the vaccination police for any government.”
These instances of non-compliance point to direction from the corporate leadership of the chain, as In-N-Out is a privately held, family-operated company that does not use a franchise model. The stance on vaccine policy compliance also represents a rare overt political position for the company, according to Restaurant Business. In-N-Out tends to remain quiet and generally outside of the public eye. Instead, the chain alludes to the religious leanings of its leadership by hiding Bible verses in unexpected places—like discreetly printed on the bottom of the chain’s cups or burger trays.