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In-N-Out has decided to restrict its food service to take-out and drive-through only in one California county following complaints by county officials that the burger chain was refusing to ask in-house diners for their vaccination status. The decision affects In-N-Out’s five locations in Contra Costa County, part of the San Francisco Bay Area.
The county had earlier ordered the chain’s Pleasant Hill location to close after it refused to ask dine-in customers for their vaccination status as mandated by the county. The location will reopen under the company’s decision detailed above.
In-N-Out’s chief legal and business officer Arnie Wensinger stated to MarketWatch last week:
“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. We refuse to become the vaccination police for any government. It is unreasonable, invasive, and unsafe to force our restaurant associates to segregate customers into those who may be served and those who may not, whether based on the documentation they carry, or any other reason.
“This is clear governmental overreach and is intrusive, improper, and offensive.”
The chain has received open support on Twitter from several conservative figures, including Candace Owens, Mike Pence, Kevin Kiley, and Jenna Ellis:
Local groups have joined together to support In-N-Out by doing what everyone with functioning taste buds and a location within driving distance should do. Namely, patronize the business.
Florida’s CFO Jimmy Patronis has sent In-N-Out’s president Lynsi Snyder an open letter encouraging them to move to the Sunshine State:
I’d be honored to introduce you to our team and help you find the perfect place to start a new In-N-Out story right here in Florida. My motto is “Florida is for Winners” and I have no doubt that your team can win here in the Sunshine State where we remain free and open for business.
Again, I’m impressed by your courage and your faith. My door is always open, please do not hesitate to contact me to discuss this matter further.
The mention of faith by Patronis brings up an interesting point. In-N-Out makes no secret of the evangelical Christian background of its founders and descendants, who own the company. The company places Bible verses on its packaging. It financially supports faith-based charities actively serving homeless mothers and children and the Slave 2 Nothing Foundation, combating both human trafficking and substance abuse. It is natural to wonder whether any or all of the local government targeting of In-N-Out is rooted in anti-Christian bigotry.
The entire matter reeks of governmental overreach, attempting to put the squeeze on private businesses to enforce rules that protect no one. In-N-Out is to be commended for pushing back. And with that, I’m off to get a Double-Double, fries, and chocolate milkshake.