Back in 2009, then-Eater head (he's now a Chron staffer) Paolo Lucchesi said that his biggest dining surprise of the year was "That there is still only one In-N-Out—sans drive-thru—in this entire city but there are 20 La Boulanges." Cut to the present day, where Starbucks owns La Boulange...and SF still only has a single In-N-Out, that one in Fisherman's Wharf.
In the intervening years, the Bible-verse-emblazoned company has added a Redwood City location, and area outlets have fed French Laundry celebrants, been a marketing tool for at least one start-up, fueled Tim Lincecum, and been hit with lawsuits alleging racism and a refusal to call 911. Oh, and who can forget the great Berkeley In-N-Out prank of 2014?
It seems like the one thing they haven't done is scout for any additional San Francisco locations. Speaking to Eater on Thursday, In-N-Out VP for planning and development Carl Van Fleet says that "while we are always looking for new opportunities and potential locations, we are not currently working on a specific site in San Francisco."
What about downtown Oakland, or poor, punked Berkeley? While Van Fleet didn't rule them out, it certainly didn't sound like anything's in the works, as he said only that "our real estate team is active throughout the Bay Area, as we do hope to add restaurants there in the future."
Eater speculates that factors holding local expansion of the chain back are those of expensive real estate, a high minimum wage, or that most SF options wouldn't allow for a drive-through, all solid possibilities.
Another reason might be the years of hassle the company has had in getting a location in Alameda opened: since 2013, hundreds of residents including the city's District Attorney have rallied against a proposed Alameda Landing location of the fast food joint, saying that it's a "magnet for crime." Though In-N-Out eventually prevailed and the spot is set to open this year, perhaps the company has decided to focus its efforts on towns where they can be certain that their animal style will be welcomed with open arms.