Don't mess with In-N-Out Burger

One of the most underrated cultural improvements in Las Vegas over the past 20 years was the arrival of In-N-Out Burger.

Las Vegas was a lesser place before the beloved fast-food chain ventured across the desert from its home turf of Southern California. Today, the Las Vegas Valley has eight In-N-Out restaurants, including, thank goodness, one just a mile from my house.

A story in today’s Los Angeles Times reminds us of our great good fortune. The city of Escondido, 40 miles north of San Diego, does not have an In-N-Out restaurant, and residents aren’t happy about it.

In-N-Out once had plans to open a restaurant in Escondido. But in 1991, the chain came before the City Council for approval and was told that its proposed sign was too big.

In-N-Out — not accustomed to such treatment — walked away and has never come back. Some observers suspect Escondido has been blacklisted at In-N-Out headquarters, although company officials deny it.

In California, of course, city councils get worked up about things like the size of fast-food restaurant signs. It’s the Socialist Republic of California, after all. But as a result of Escondido’s high-and-mighty attitude, it has to settle for Carl’s Jr. instead of the sumptuous offerings of In-N-Out.

By contrast, zoning is pretty much a free-for-all in Las Vegas. That’s not usually a good thing, but in the specific case of In-N-Out, a laissez-faire attitude is fine by me.