In-N-Out’s billionaire heiress says she queued for 2 hours to land a job at her own store aged 17 to shake the ‘stigma of being the owner’s kid’ and ‘earn respect’

 Lynsi Snyder’s path to ownership of burger chain In-N-Out is scarred by family tragedy—and defined by the 41-year-old’s unwavering determination to ensure she’d earned her place in the business by gaining the respect of her peers.

Snyder took on the top job at the West Coast chain at age 27 in 2010, leading the business founded by her grandparents in 1948. When Snyder’s grandfather, Harry Snyder, died in December 1976 the business was led by his sons Rich and Guy.

Rich Snyder—Lynsi’s uncle—died in a plane crash in Orange County in 1993, followed by the death of her father in 1999. At the age of 17, Lynsi Snyder was the last blood relative surviving of the Burger dynasty.

But the young businesswoman never wanted to be handed any opportunities courtesy of her surname, so she queued up for two hours outside a new In-N-Out restaurant in Redding, Calif. to land a summer job at the chain aged 17.

“I think that there’s a stigma that can come with being the owner’s kid,” Snyder told Today in an interview released this week. “I just wanted to be respected like others, doing it the right way and not having the special treatment.”

Her first job at In-N-Out saw Snyder doing the minor jobs expected of new staff: slicing onions, preparing tomatoes, and separating salad leaves. No one knew Snyder’s identity at the store except its manager, the heiress told Orange Coast Magazine in 2014, ensuring she was treated the same by her colleagues as any other teenager.

In 2024 Snyder’s net worth stands at $6.7 billion, per Forbes, after she oversaw the opening of the chain’s 400th store and launched in three new states: Colorado, Oregon, and Texas.

But her family’s painful history is never out of mind for the mother of four, she said: “It really was that family pain and tragedy that really put each leader in its place.”

In an homage to her family, Snyder also oversaw the construction of a replica of In-N-Out’s first-ever restaurant in Baldwin Park, California, which opened in 2014.

In the early days of leading the business, Snyder struggled to establish her identity within the family-founded behemoth that employs more than 36,000 people.

“In the earlier days, I actually wore pantsuits, and I did that because I felt like I was supposed to,” Snyder added.

A flick through Snyder’s interviews and Instagram illustrates the In-N-Out owner is anything but the suit-wearing board executive who keeps their work and home life separate.

A musician and fan of drag racing, Snyder oversaw the formation of In-N-Out’s “company band,” a rock group called .48 Special. The Snyders—right back to Harry—have always been avid fans of California’s car culture and in 2023 began a multi-year partnership with the National Hot Rod Association.

Snyder, now often pictured in heart-shaped sunglasses and plaid flannel shirts, continued: “And then I finally was confident in who I am and who I’m not. You’re going to get judged either way, so you might as well be judged for being who you are.”

Lynsi Snyder with In-N-Out employees, pictured in 2013

The California institution has also become home to viral meme culture in recent years, courtesy of celebrities grabbing a burger following awards shows and events. In January, Billions actor Paul Giamatti was pictured in a suit and bow tie at In-N-Out, with the Golden Globe award he had won that night nestled among his burgers and fries.

Entrepreneur Kim Kardashian and her family have also been known to pop into restaurants, bedecked in designer sunglasses and feathers, while the brand’s burgers have become a staple of Oscars after parties to the extent that famed director Steven Spielberg began taking photos of his meal.

Price pressures in the fast food world

With California’s minimum wage laws increasing—and hikes across states to come—many restaurants, including burger chains, are warning they may have to hike prices to cover the cost of doing business.

The issue piles on top of other price pressures for consumers: widespread inflation, no cut in sight for the Fed’s base interest rate, and continued heat in the housing market.

Snyder said she didn’t want the Irvine, Calif.-based company to add to that burden: “I was sitting in VP meetings going toe-to-toe saying ‘We can’t raise the prices that much, we can’t’ because I felt such an obligation to look out for our customers.

“When everyone else was taking these jumps, we weren’t.”

According to an investigation from The New York Post published last week, In-N-Out’s price increases since the California wage bill have been slimmer than others. Burgers, per the Post, have increased by 25 cents while sodas increased by five cents.

Other businesses have been forced to answer to customers who are unimpressed by their growing prices. In February McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski pledged to focus on affordability, saying during an earnings call: “I think what you’re going to see as you head into 2024 is probably more attention to what I would describe as affordability.

“Eating at home has become more affordable. The battleground is certainly with that low-income consumer.”

Meanwhile at Yum Brands, which owns KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, CFO Chris Turner told Reuters the business can “able to serve customers at any part of the economic strata,” with new customers trading down from more expensive chains to Yum’s more budget-friendly alternatives.

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post