To heck with snagging Amazon's second corporate headquarters; In-N-Out Burger is coming to Colorado Springs.
The Irvine, Calif.-based chain - whose burgers, fries and shakes have developed a cult-like following over nearly 70 years - will open its first restaurant in Colorado Springs as part of its expansion to Colorado.
At the same time, In-N-Out will make the city its regional headquarters - building offices, a patty production facility and a distribution center to serve the rest of Colorado and possibly beyond.
In-N-Out has contracted to buy 22.4 acres at Victory Ridge, a mixed-use project southeast of InterQuest and Voyager parkways on the Springs' north side, according to Victory Ridge developer Westside Investment Partners of suburban Denver. In-N-Out's first Colorado restaurant also would open at Victory Ridge, Andy Klein, a Westside principal, said Thursday.
Don't get in line just yet, however. In-N-Out likely won't complete its land purchase until the first or second quarter of 2018, Klein said. In a best-case scenario, the first In-N-Out probably won't open until 2020 - after office, production and distribution facilities are built, he said.
In-N-Out officials didn't respond to emailed questions, and it's unknown why the chain chose the Springs, how many restaurants it plans, the number of local employees or the size of its production and distribution facilities - although Klein said they'll be "very substantial."
"Colorado Springs is an ideal community for us to locate facilities to serve surrounding markets with fresh ingredients, including meat patties produced locally," Carl Arena, In-N-Out's vice president of development, said in an emailed statement.
"We have always been thoughtful about expansion into new markets because it is very important that we are able to maintain the high quality and service standards established by our founders almost 70 years ago," Arena said. "We are extremely fortunate to have a number of loyal customers in Colorado and they have been encouraging us to open locations there for some time."
Klein said he and In-N-Out representatives met Thursday with Colorado Springs officials to discuss the chain's plans. No city financial incentives have been provided at this time to In-N-Out, although the city will work to expedite regulatory hurdles, said Jeff Greene, Mayor John Suthers' chief of staff.
Klein said he doesn't know how many restaurants In-N-Out plans, but its centrally located Springs distribution facility will allow it to serve areas to the north and south, and possibly as far as New Mexico and Wyoming.
In-N-Out's decision to come to the Springs is an economic development win and culinary coup for the city. The chain won't bring the thousands of jobs that Amazon will create with its second headquarters, but In-N-Out is expected to pump millions into the local economy. It also will add a high-profile brand to a city touted for its quality of life in recent years by Money Magazine and U.S. News & World Report.
In-N-Out's fans are among the most fanatical, fueled in part by reputation and unavailability except on the West Coast and a few other states. Rumors of expansion into new territories have been known to set off frenzied reactions among burger aficionados who swear by In-N-Out's freshness.
"This really helps us as a community to continue to show the world that Colorado Springs is a great place to live, work and do business," said Tammy Fields, the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce & EDC's senior vice president for economic development.
For Westside Investments, landing In-N-Out is another major step as it develops the 153-acre Victory Ridge, expected to include up to 1.6 million square feet of commercial space, more than 500 residences and the Larry Ochs Sports Complex.
Once known as Colorado Crossing, the project's original developer went bankrupt in 2010 and the property stood idle for years. Westside paid $22.1 million in 2016 for the project and is working on is revival; Icon Cinemas of New Mexico opened a 14-screen, upscale movie theater complex at Victory Ridge a few weeks ago.
"If you've ever been to an In-N-Out, you know what kind of traffic they drive," said Westside's Klein. "Having the first store in Colorado Springs is going to mean a lot of traffic, which will be great for all the other businesses that choose to locate at Victory Ridge."