The Independent London Newspaper
23rd March 2018

Fast food fans descend on Swiss Cottage as In-N-Out Burger opens for just four hours

    Worth the wait? The burger that people queued around the block for

    Published: 22 September, 2016

    DISAPPOINTED fans of an American fast-food chain were left wondering if they had been used as unwitting players in a publicity stunt as hundreds queued in Swiss Cottage for a restaurant that was opening for four hours only.

    In-N-Out Burger, which has a cult-like following in the US, announced exclusively but understatedly in the New Journal last week that it would be making a fleeting appearance in Finchley Road. 

    Such was the response that around half the 400-strong queue, which snaked 200 metres along the pavement to Hilgrove Road, were turned away empty handed.

    Managers at Estancia Brasil, who rented out their restaurant for the day, had been told to expect crowds. The advert, which said the restaurant would be open from 11am to 3pm, stated simply: “First come, first served. Limited quantities for sale.”

    It was a prescient warning. By midday yesterday (Wednesday) punters were being told by staff, who were decked out in the firm’s iconic all-white uniform, that those without a precious wristband would be going hungry. 

    Ben Shepherd, one of the unlucky ones, said: “It’s a great PR strategy for them. They get us to stand out here waiting all morning while the photographers take pictures. I wouldn’t have minded if I’d at least got a burger for playing my part.” 

    The queue snaking back from In-N-Out Burger

    Julia D’Orazio was also turned away empty handed. She said: “They really should have thought to get more burgers. Maybe it’s a ploy by the Californian tourist board. If you can’t get a burger here, come to California.”

    Sam Haynes, who had travelled from Hertfordshire, was waiting in the queue to meet her partner when the bad news was delivered. 

    “My boyfriend is coming from Croydon, so now I have to wait here and deal with his rant. It’s my fault. I dragged him out of bed to get here,” she said.

    The short-lived opening, which is seen more as a way of garnering headlines than a genuine attempt to break into the British market, has been used by the chain in countries across the globe. 

    In Sydney, Australia, earlier this year, people began queuing at 4am, with scenes reminiscent of those more often associated with the launch of a new smartphone or the latest Harry Potter instalment. 

    The In-N-Out burgers last made an appearance in the UK in 2012, with hundreds of people queueing outside a nondescript café in Hendon, north London.

    “It’s very strange,” said Jo Gomez, who left his house near the Swiss Cottage roundabout yesterday to find out why hundreds of people, predominantly in their 20s and 30s, had joined the queue. 

    “At first I thought something was happening at the bank. I thought they knew something I didn’t and were queueing to withdraw money,” he said. “I just can’t believe people would go to that extreme for a burger.” 

    Vasco Gumede, Ray Juss and Young Gorby were among the first to be served

    Gareth Potter, the first to be served, had arrived at 6:30am. “I think I got here just before the In-N-Out guys turned up,” he said.

    “This was my first ever one, but I don’t think it will be my last. I could have easily eaten another two or three without any real damage.” 

    Ray Juss, who had skipped work to join the queue at 8am, said: “I haven’t told my boss, but he’ll know when I turn up to work with the 

    T-shirt and a huge smile on my face.”

    Speaking afterwards, he said: “I’m pretty disappointed, because I could only have one. Last time I went I got three burgers and fries. It’s just not enough to have one.”

    They were joined at the front of the queue by Kentish Town resident Jamie Klingler, who organises the annual National Burger Day and is something of an expert on the subject.

    She said: “I’d never had one before, but I knew a lot of the guys at the front of the line from Burger Day and we had a really nice morning chatting about our favourite burgers and our checklists.” She said In-N-Out burger had earned a place in her top five. 

    But not everyone was ready to join the cult. Vasco Gumede had not tried an In-N-Out burger before, but tagged along with a group of friends. He said: “It was good for the price. I can’t say it was the most amazing burger I’ve ever had. I’ve made better ones on the BBQ myself.”


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