In-N-Out Burger just announced the opening date for its first Idaho restaurant. Here’s what to know. - East Idaho News

In-N-Out Burger just announced the opening date for its first Idaho restaurant. Here’s what to know.

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MERIDIAN (Idaho Statesman) — Rub your eyes, Idaho — and your belly. What you are reading is real.

Three years after In-N-Out revealed plans to expand to Idaho, the chance to sink your teeth into a Double-Double “Animal-Style” cheeseburger finally has arrived. The grand opening date is here.

The Gem State’s first In-N-Out Burger will open Tuesday, Dec. 12, in a large, new building at 3520 E. Fairview Ave. at The Village at Meridian, according to a media release.

The lines will be long. And the newly trained employees might be harried. In-N-Out is Idaho’s most dreamed-of, begged-for fast-food chain. A California favorite for 75 years, the Irvine-based brand has evolved into a cultural icon.

The location will be managed by Valene Henriquez, a 23-year veteran with In-N-Out, according to the release. “The restaurant will employ approximately 80 In-N-Out Burger Associates with a starting wage of $17.50 per hour,” it adds. “There will be one drive-thru lane, indoor seating for 84 guests, and a covered patio with outdoor seating for 32 guests. All In-N-Out Burger locations are open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. and until 1:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.”

Idahoans in the know — not just California transplants — will customize their orders. Some might ask for a burger to be “mustard-grilled.” Or request chopped chilis. Or specify that they want their hand-cut fries cooked “light well.”

Still, orders should move along. Speed of execution is one of In-N-Out’s strengths. Plus, this new restaurant is built for lots of humanity. That drive-thru will be capable of handling a long line of vehicles with both Idaho and California license plates.

Meridian’s In-N-Out is one of three proposed in the Treasure Valley. Plans are moving forward for a Boise restaurant at 140 N. Milwaukee St. near Boise Towne Square mall. And earlier this year, a building application was submitted to the city of Nampa. That store would be at 16225 N. Marketplace Blvd., where TGI Fridays used to operate in the Treasure Valley Marketplace, according to previous Statesman reporting.

And, oh, is Idaho ready. Six years ago, I conducted a poll of Statesman readers asking which chain restaurant should come to Boise. A decisive 44% of the 4,588 votes were cast for In-N-Out Burger. The next closest was White Castle — with 8%.

When I broke the news in 2020 that In-N-Out had set a five-year goal to expand to the greater Boise area, it was the start of a local-media feeding frenzy. In the time it has taken for the first restaurant to open, Idaho’s appetite for In-N-Out has only grown bigger.

So maybe pass on that Double-Double? Go bigger.

Feed your face with a Quad Quad. Or, if you live in Boise, be patient. Wait for the Capital City’s In-N-Out to open.

The line in Meridian may stretch all the way to Boise, anyway.