What opening day was like at In-N-Out’s first Idaho restaurant

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It isn’t often that restaurant openings in the suburbs of Boise make international news, but that’s what happened last week, thanks to In-N-Out Burger and crowd sourcing.

In-N-Out opened its first restaurant in Idaho on Dec. 12 in Meridian, population just under 130,000, according to recent data.

The Idaho Stateman’s report that customers waited in the drive-thru line for eight hours on opening day were repeated in long articles by the New York Post and the Daily Mail, which is based in London. The Washington Post put the wait at six hours.

Six days later, walk-up lines are still out the door and into the parking lot, according to posts on the In-N-Out Meridian Wait Time Tracker, a Facebook page set up a week ago.

One of the sources for news stories is John Sowell, a former Huntington Beach resident who waited for the event for nearly 24 hours in the cold.

He posts on the In-N-Out Enthusiasts Facebook page, which has more than 126,000 members.

Sowell’s passion for In-N-Out runs deep, he wrote in an email. He said he spent most of his early childhood in Southern California before moving to Idaho. In-N-Out became an occasional treat, but as the Irvine-based chain grew he has visited about 50 restaurants in California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah and Oregon. His first meal with his wife Kristy was in a Carson City In-N-Out.

He was fourth in line when he arrived at the Meridan restaurant at 12:30 p.m. the day before opening. He said the first people in line got their 11 hours earlier, at 1:30 a.m.

“I used an electric blanket to stay warm overnight as temperatures dipped to 37 degrees. I plugged into a solar battery we use when we’re camping. I got maybe 90 minutes of sleep. The excitement of what was to come made it hard to sleep.”



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