By C. Jayden Smith
The long-awaited new In-N-Out Burger location situated along Avenida Pico opened Friday morning, Dec. 9, after years of bureaucratic and construction delays.
As is custom, “all-stars” from other local franchises traveled to San Clemente to help with the opening and train the new associates, according to Chief Operating Officer Denny Warnick. The extra help will remain as long as necessary.
Warnick spoke to the extensive process that went into opening the newest restaurant within the city, starting with the submittal of a pre-application in January 2019. The project, he said, required countless details to manifest the “special” In-N-Out—the opening of which was significant for both the corporation and the city.
“This was definitely a longer process, there were a lot of things along the way to make sure that we took care for this particular property,” said Warnick. “And you can tell that this building is unique. It’s a beautiful building.”
In-N-Out tapped Benjamin Sanchez, a 26-year veteran of the company, as the location’s general manager.
“For a number of years, he’s been running our store up in Laguna Niguel, and he is a fantastic leader and an awesome representative of our company,” Warnock said of Sanchez. “(He’s just a wonderful candidate to be here bringing In-N-Out to the community for the first time.”
Long-time patrons of franchise locations outside of city limits were excited to have one closer to home.
Roxanne Wildermuth and Roberta Smigel, residents of San Clemente for 14 and 17 years, respectively, were among those who stopped by Friday. Wildermuth said her favorite combo is the No. 2 cheeseburger meal.
Since moving to California from Brooklyn, New York, Smigel said she has eaten at In-N-Out frequently and loves the consistency.
“The service is really great and everyone’s friendly,” said Smigel. “I’ve been wanting one here for so long.”
Anna Calderon, a 12-year resident, said she’s frequented the popular chain for many years with her favorite meal being the Protein-Style Double Burger with well-done fries. She’s happy to have location closer than the restaurant along San Juan Capistrano’s Ortega Highway.
Because of In-N-Out’s innate popularity, traffic around the new restaurant is a concern of Calderon’s. She acknowledged though that she felt similarly about the Outlets at San Clemente when it first opened, only to later see that it hasn’t been as bad as she once thought.
“I’m like, Wow, what’s the traffic going to be like,” Calderon said. “But, I’ve known In-N-Out always to move their traffic quickly everywhere we go.”
Warnick told San Clemente Times the restaurant has hired 80 employees to date and looks to hire more.
C. Jayden Smith
C. Jayden Smith graduated from Dana Hills High in 2018 before pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in digital and broadcast journalism from the University of North Texas. After graduating in December 2020, he reported for the Salina Journal in Salina, Kansas. Jayden loves college football and bothering his black lab named Shadow.
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