In-N-Out Burger has announced the permanent closure of its Oakland location, the first time the chain has shuttered a restaurant in its entire 75+ year history. The fast food icon blamed an alarming surge in crime near the Oakland International Airport for creating an untenable environment that left them “no alternative” but to cease operations.
Years of Rising Crime Forces In-N-Out’s Hand
The beloved California burger chain has weathered recessions, wars, pandemics and more over the decades, serving up its classic Double-Doubles from Redding down to San Diego. But even an institution as sturdy as In-N-Out couldn’t outlast Oakland’s ongoing issues with robberies, break-ins, attacks and other criminal behavior concentrated around the city’s airport.
While crime near the airport is nothing new, the last few years have seen offenses spike to “terrible” levels, according to local reporting. The trend aligns with citywide jumps in homicide, burglary and motor vehicle theft rates from 2020 onward.
In-N-Out’s beloved Oakland location suddenly found itself ground zero for rampant misdemeanor crimes and even frightening felony offenses like armed robbery attempts. The last straw was an incident in December 2023 when a group of teens attacked an employee in the parking lot after attempting to rob the store.
Company Points to Public Safety Failures in Closure Announcement
In its January 23rd statement announcing the restaurant’s permanent closure, In-N-Out President Lynsi Snyder directly cited Oakland’s erosion of public safety over the last three years as the reason they could no longer operate there:
“Despite continued efforts to work with local law enforcement to try and curb this unacceptable behavior, the ongoing issues of crime leave us no alternative but to close our restaurant.”
The 76-year old company also made it clear they did not take the decision lightly, fully aware it would impact not just customers but also the over two dozen employees at that location:
“It is heartbreaking that we were compelled to permanently close our facility. We are grateful for the support of our loyal customers and will continue to look for ways to serve them in the East Bay.”
In-N-Out had reportedly invested significant resources into security for the Oakland store, including security guards and barriers to try to combat persistent issues like vehicle break-ins. But with serious and violent crimes continuing largely unabated in the area, they ultimately determined the safety risks and financial burden were too great.
Oakland Leaders Vow Action While Resigning Themselves to Reality
In response to the embarrassing closure announcement, Oakland city officials acknowledged more work is urgently needed to curb unlawful behavior. Both the Mayor’s office and Oakland police issued statements expressing disappointment and vowing to enhance security efforts near the airport:
“We share the frustration…it is unacceptable for any business or neighborhood to experience repeated victimization & fear the very real consequences of crime.” – Oakland PD
However, sources also described a perhaps inevitable acceptance that crime issues may be intractable given larger socioeconomic forces like poverty and the post-pandemic economy.
|Oakland Key Crime Statistics
* Projected based on Jan-Nov actuals
† Through November
Per the table above, Oakland has seen sustained high rates of violent offenses even as California broadly has seen slowing crime growth. With over 130 homicides a year, Oakland’s per capita homicide rate is now triple the state average. Locals lament it may simply be the harsh reality that the city, especially the lower income eastern precincts, will remain saddled with crime challenges that drive away promising businesses.
In-N-Out Devastates Loyal East Bay Customers
For Oakland residents, the shutterring of their beloved burger spot deals a true psychological blow on top of the tragedy of its circumstances. In-N-Out has cultivated a rabid cult following across its native California, with the Oakland airport location proving every bit as popular as any.
On Bay Area social platforms like Reddit and NextDoor, commentators mourned the loss of their convenient In-N-Out access:
I’m crushed, it was such a bright spot to have In-N-Out somewhat close for us East Bay folks.
My family loved grabbing a burger after seeing auntie land at the airport. So sad we won’t have that little treat for her next visit.
The disappointment extends beyond just loyal customers. One Oakland native rued the closure’s symbolic representation of the city’s declining fortunes:
Seeing In-N-Out boarded up because it’s too dangerous to operate here just rips your heart out…feels like giving up on Oaktown itself.
For In-N-Out’s legions of devotees, the confirmation that not even their heralded chain is immune from Oakland’s hardened culture of lawlessness comes as a psychic gut punch.
In-N-Out’s Extreme Rarity of Closures Signals Grave Oakland Crime Realities
While the loss of theirDouble-Double and fry fix may seem trivial compared to violent offenses, In-N-Out’s unprecedented decision to withdraw from Oakland underscores the magnitude of the city’s current public safety crisis.
Consider that over more than 75 years spanning the Pacific Coast, In-N-Out had never before chosen to close any of its ~380 restaurants. This for a chain with locations situated in dense urban environments from LA to Vegas to San Francisco navigating every prior economic and social turmoil in California history without shuttering operations.
For Oakland’s airport-adjacent crime chaos to spur the retailer into making an unprecedented move speaks volumes about the current untenable realities on the streets there. The closure also raises real questions for other brands with outlets in the area about just how viable the highest risk parts of Oakland even are anymore for businesses.
As jobs and tax revenue hang in the balance, the city is on notice that bolder actions will be needed to try and address the root causes of persistent criminality. Because while In-N-Out may represent the first major retailer to pull up stakes in Oakland, without progress it likely won’t be the last.
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