A Gut Punch for Burger Lovers: In-N-Out Raises Prices

A Gut Punch for Burger Lovers: In-N-Out Raises Prices

An In-N-Out Burger restaurant in Oakland, Calif., on Jan. 23, 2024. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Kimberly Hayek
Kimberly Hayek

6/12/2024

Updated: 6/12/2024

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Imagine walking into your favorite In-N-Out Burger location, taking a look at the glowing white and red menu, and being greeted yet again with increased prices.
That’s exactly what’s happening to customers all over California at the beloved 1950s-style burger joint, known for its friendly customer service and high-quality burgers.
This week In-N-Out officially raised its prices—a decision made in April in response to a new California minimum wage law.
An In-N-Out Double-Double with fries and a drink has leaped over the $10 mark in the burger joint’s 275 California restaurants for the first time in the chain’s history.
In-N-Out cites the Golden State’s $20 minimum wage for fast-food workers that went into effect in April and constitutes a $4 increase over the state’s previous minimum wage. As with other places, prices have been steadily on the rise at In-N-Out since 2020.
In September 2023, Gov. Gavin Newsom celebrated the passage of the $20 minimum wage legislation for restaurants with more than 60 locations.
But it was a jolt to restaurants that had managed to survive the pandemic shutdown.
Rubio’s Coastal Grill, which has long faced financial struggles, filed for bankruptcy after closing nearly 50 of its restaurants. Rubio’s cited “significant increases to the minimum wage in California” among other reasons.
In-N-Out’s price increase and Rubio’s bankruptcy come after months of reports of layoffs in California’s fast-food industry ahead of the April 1 mandated wage increase effective date.
A number of reactions were posted on X. Some were frustrated:
“Come on In-N-Out, seriously?! You’re killing me with these constant price hikes! First it’s a quarter more per burger, then it’s five cents extra per drink ... and now you’re charging $11.44 for the Double-Double combo?! That’s just ridiculous! I get that costs have gone up…”
Others shrugged off the increase:
“Honestly, as much as I get mad at everyone else for it—in n out has not once changed the ingredients or quality and has kept their prices lower than even McDonalds throughout this period of terrible inflation. Don’t blame them at all.”
And not everyone believed In-N-Out’s explanation for raising its prices.
“This is such weird framing, considering in n out has always paid more than $20/hr for starting wages. it’s almost like owners of corps are lying about why they’re raising prices”
As of late, it’s been a mixed bag overall in California for In-N-Out, which closed its Oakland store in March due to “ongoing issues with crime.” It marked the first closure in the company’s then-75-year history.
The company made headlines during the COVID-19 pandemic when the San Francisco Department of Public Health shut down a location after In-N-Out refused to check if customers in their restaurants were vaccinated.
The Fisherman’s Wharf outlet was closed and reopened for takeout the next day, while the Pleasant Hill location was cited twice for violating Contra Costa’s ban on indoor dining.
As evidenced throughout the state by long drive-through lines, In-N-Out still enjoys ample consumer support. There’s enough demand, that the fast-food joint is opening new locations, such as in Huntington Beach, another in San Juan Capistrano, as well as a planned location near San Diego State University. The burger chain also continues its expansion into the Mountain States, with a planned location in Twin Falls, Idaho.
The burger chain is ranked in Glassdoor’s Best-Led Companies list, alongside computer chip makers and artificial intelligence companies.
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