By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
And yet, here is an In-N-Out where you haveto park your car. (In a Mervyn’s parking structure, no less!) Facing this immanent, undeniable heresy, I experienced an episode of cognitive dissonance. Did this represent some new corporate strategy? Was In-N-Out turning its back not just on tradition but, even more unthinkable in Southern California, on the car itself?
I decided to make inquiries. I called corporate offices in Irvine and asked what the heck was going on.
“Our Brand Boulevard In-N-Out is actually our fifth location without a drive-thru,” Carl Van Fleet, In-N-Out’s vice president of planning, patiently explained in an e-mail a week later. “The first location without a drive-thru opened in Placentia in 1984, and there are also two in the Bay Area and one in Laguna Hills. So we really don’t consider a store without a drive-thru as a break with tradition. We just have a few sites where a drive-thru was not possible but we wanted to be there anyway. And most of our older stores have two drive-thru lanes and outside seating with a walk-up window, [so] I wouldn’t call them drive-thru only.”
So In-N-Out on Brand, in a very distinct minority, is a variation on the formula, kinda like the chain’s infamous off-the-menu items: the 4 x 4 (four patties, four slices of cheese), the Flying Dutchman (a Double-Double without veggies), Animal Style (don’t ask). Just as the Protein Style burger has no bun, or the Wish Burger has no meat, this In-N-Out has no drive-thru.
In a way, it doesn’t matter, because you don’t really mind having to stay to eat. I mean, look at the place: With its vaulted ceiling and huddled masses, this In-N-Out is unlike any I’ve ever experienced — it’s somewhere between a pleasant cafeteria and a brightly lit cathedral. The Snyder family may still print New Testament quotations on the bottoms of In-N-Out’s disposable drink cups, but the Brand location seems a celebration of an altogether different trinity: you half expect the giant windows facing Brand Boulevard to feature stained-glass representations of Double-Double, Fries and the Holy Coke.
They don’t, of course. What you see when you look out the window is traffic. And, if you watch closely, I’m told by the store’s staff, sometimes you’ll see the same car pass by several times in the span of a few minutes, a puzzled look on the faces of the driver and passengers.
They’re looking for the drive-thru, you see.
They ain’t gonna find it.
AS I WAS COMPLETING a left turn onto Sycamore Avenue from a busy Beverly Boulevard, the driver of a baby blue Cadillac Seville pulled head-on into my path in an effort to get around the massive delivery truck waiting to make a right turn in front of him. I was able to stop, but by jutting into the middle of the street, M&M — my made-up name for the wigger driving what was most likely his pop’s hooptie — effectively pinned my shiny, 22-day-old Honda Civic between Baby Blue and a row of parked vehicles lining the curb. Accelerating would mean a game of bumper cars with consequences.
The driver’s-side window was tinted a few shades lighter than a limousine so I couldn’t tell for sure, but I’m guessing M&M was no older than 23. He had a faint beard and was reclined to the max in his seat. I think he was jostling a toothpick in his mouth. The hood of his sweatshirt was pulled down to his eyebrows, forcing him to raise his head when he finally decided to turn and acknowledge my presence, which he did only after I honked and honked again for not making an effort to let me pass. M&M then pointed his hand at me like it was a gun . . . Bang!That’s when I lost my cool.
I drew down my car window and spit a loogie at M&M.
Spitting at a person is low. It’s worse than a sucker punch because the recipient can’t react appropriately. How exactly does one deflect spit? Even though my loogie landed on M&M’s rolled-up window, he knew the real bull’s-eye was his face. Much disrespect.
Right after, the delivery truck turned, freeing up space for Baby Blue and me to maneuver out of our standstill. I continued down Sycamore. An adrenaline rush. A sigh of relief. Then, a double take in my rearview mirror: M&M was flipping a bitch on Beverly and coming after me. I sped up, then slowed down, then the pussy in me rationalized that I didn’t need the confrontation and sped up again, right past my apartment, before turning right onto Second Street and then right onto La Brea. The northbound chase was on.
In high school there was a group of us who did stupid shit like toss balloons filled with ketchup at moving cars and play chicken for real. Once, we pissed off a cowboy in a pickup truck and he chased us for miles, along the way firing his pistol just to scare us. This was in the backwoods of Colleyville, Texas, though, not a Hollywood thoroughfare, where there is safety, presumably, in numbers.
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