In-N-Out Burger plans to open in Hurst

HURST -- Burger wars are brewing in Northeast Tarrant County.

A site plan was recently given preliminary approval by the Hurst City Council, clearing the way for In-N-Out Burger to move in.

"We did a large market study on the entire Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex," said Carl Van Fleet, In-N-Out's vice president for planning and development. "Hurst fits in our plan really well. This is a great site [at] a prominent intersection with great visibility from all directions."

The company previously announced that it will open its first Tarrant County restaurant on West Seventh Street in Fort Worth.

The Hurst In-N-Out will be at the corner of Precinct Line Road and Airport Freeway, next to QuikTrip, and will strengthen Northeast Tarrant's position as a burger destination.

Euless, for example, has a variety of burger joints: Mooyah Burgers and Fries, Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, OC Burgers and Burger Box.

There's also Clown Burger in Haltom City, Chapps Burger Cafe in Keller, Peace Burger Dive Bar and Grill in Grapevine, and Johnny B's and Kincaid's in Southlake.

But one expert said the area isn't even close to burger saturation.

John Murphy, director of operations for Monument Restaurants in Texas, said the company has the rights for 90 Five Guys Burgers & Fries restaurants from Dallas-Fort Worth to San Antonio, "and we've opened 16 so far," including one in Southlake Town Square.

Success depends on finding something that people want and delivering it consistently, Murphy said.

"People are willing to spend a little more on our burgers, but they expect more, like fresh ingredients," he said. "We don't have freezers in our restaurants. To me, fresh tastes better. I think there are a lot of people out there who agree."

While he wouldn't predict that Monument will open all 90 Five Guys franchises, Murphy said that 12 to 14 a year will open for the next three or four years.

Van Fleet said that In-N-Out has been looking at North Texas for several years. The company has 201 locations in California -- where it started as a family-owned restaurant in 1948 -- 27 in Arizona, 16 in Nevada and eight in Utah.

"We grow slowly and don't look that far ahead," Van Fleet said. "But we hope to get eight open there [Dallas-Fort Worth] next year and want to do several more the following year. We're evaluating a variety of sites."

The 750 Airport Freeway site, across from Hurst City Hall, has some city employees excited.

Ashleigh Whiteman, communications manager, is eager to have another good lunch spot within walking distance, and another good business for Hurst.

"The city wants something that's exciting, a draw," she said. "In-N-Out Burger is certainly a draw."

Indeed, the restaurant chain has a cultlike following in California. Admirers may be hard-pressed to explain why they love the burgers, but it's likely similar to Murphy's claim about Five Guys -- fresh ingredients. The meat patties are never frozen, and neither are the fries. Lettuce leaves are stripped by hand. Buns are freshly baked.

Van Fleet said that once construction begins, "it usually takes up to five months to build" a 3,400-square-foot In-N-Out.

There is no timetable for In-N-Out's opening, officials said.

This report includes material from Star-Telegram archives.