An In-N-Out Burger opened in Hanford today and this is a really, really big deal there. Why? Because people in Hanford have been pushing for one for years. Fans launched a “Bring In-N-Out to Hanford” Facebook page that has 9,195 likes, decorated an In-N-Out themed float in their homecoming parade and got 8,000 signatures on a petition. One guy who’s been messaging me even had the red palm trees from the cups tattooed on his arms.
Anyway, today was the big opening. Some folks showed up in the early hours of the morning to be the first in the door. The restaurant is at 280 S. 12th St., which is right near Highway 198 and in front of Walmart. It has a drive-thru and employs 50 people, with a starting wage of $10.50 per hour.
One of the first things I learned when I moved to Fresno over a decade ago was that this is In-N-Out Burger country. And Hanford is no exception.
In-N-Out fans there recently found out they’re finally going to get one of their beloved restaurants. It’s in the very beginning stages, but sometime months and months from now — if all goes as planned — there should be an In-N-Out on 12th Avenue in front of Walmart.
This is a special victory for fans because they’ve been campaigning to bring In-N-Out here for the last 23 months. Let me give you a sampling of the zeal of their efforts:
A petition drive brought in more than 8,000 signatures, including local soldiers stationed in Afghanistan and Iran.
In-N-Out fans had their own float in a homecoming parade, a fire truck decorated by people dedicated to bringing the restaurant to Hanford.
Somehow Good Morning America host Josh Elliot and ABC 30 got in on the action, with the host giving on-air shout outs to the effort. You can see him getting the news here.
And I’ll leave you with the entertaining words of one of In-N-Out’s most dedicated Hanford fans, MichaelAnthony LaCrue. This guy is so in love with this restaurant that he’s been calling the company every other week for years, and is even planning to have the red palm trees from the In-N-Out cup tattooed on his wrists.
I think Corporate In-N-Out finally decided the only way they could shut me up was to stick a double double in my mouth. I received a gorgeous In-N-Out snow globe from corporate at Christmas and soon after they sent me the message I have been waiting for ,,,, for oh so long,,,,,, They are coming to Hanford!!!!
Is there (water) bottle service? Can you do tequlia shots during breaks? Will 50 Cent be there performing? (“You can do Zumba in the club / Look mami I got the X if you’re into some ‘cising / I’m into doin’ Zumba, I ain’t into treadmillin”)
I need answers!
Just a warning: If you see me during the next week or so, I’m probably going to randomly be yellling “ZUMBA IN THE CLUB!!!” in a half-Bernie Mac voice. Oh, and if anybody’s interested in making a “Zumba in the Club” dubstep song, I’m down to record some vocals.
When Arianne Wing sent me an e-mail about her Uncle Richard’s death, I was transported back to a cold afternoon at Imperial Dynasty, his Hanford restaurant.
It was shortly before the restaurant’s 2006 closure, and the dining room bore the weight of history. Arianne pointed out the missing tassels on the lanterns, swiped as keepsakes by sad patrons. She waved at numerous food-and-wine awards on the walls. And she told me how her uncle traveled the world as a personal aide and food taster to Gen. George C. Marshall in the mid-1940s — an experience that shaped his cooking.
Soon came the escargots, his signature dish. After devouring them all, I understood why celebrities, winemakers and chefs traveled from as far away as Italy and Japan for a taste of Richard’s French-Chinese style. From the deep-fried escargot shells to the addition of ginger in the traditional butter-garlic sauce, it was a delicious blend of French cuisine and Chinese cooking techniques.
If you haven’t had the chance to try them, I feel sorry for you.
And if you have memories of Richard or the Imperial Dynasty, please share them in the comments. (Sherrill Harris, Jennifer Wing, Leilani Wing-Shimizu and Ernie Wing — I hope to hear from you. Arianne says you have “a billion and one stories to share.” But I’ll settle for a few of them.)
[Photo of Richard Wing with his nieces. Photo credit: Tomas Ovalle, The Fresno Bee]