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Update: Fort Worth In-N-Out opens

Posted 10:43am on Thursday, Aug. 11, 2011

Check out our photo gallery of the In-N-Out faithful who made the Thursday morning pilgrimage to their beloved burger joint.

If there were any tears, this time, they were silent.

Yes, a passionate few did camp out Wednesday night for the first taste of an In-N-Out Burger in Fort Worth. But the Thursday morning opening on West 7th street lacked the drama of the chain's first two North Texas stores, in Frisco and Allen. They also mercifully lacked the insane, snaking drive-through lines that choked traffic in those areas. That’s partly thanks to a smart traffic plan, routing people to the drive-through not from 7th street, but around the back from 6th street.

UPDATE: Lunchtime, however, was a bit hairier. If you parked your car in the In-N-Out lot and ordered at the counter, you got, um, in and out quicker. My burger order took about 12 minutes total -- from standing in line to the servers calling out my number.

Now, if you opted for the drive-through, well, bless ya. Depending on which way you come onto 7th, traffic cops and signs smartly route drive-through around the main entrance. Traffic queues up on 6th and Norwood, where the clog is mighty. It was 1:26 p.m. when I pulled into the "line" on 6th street ... what felt like miles from the actual In-N-Out premises. By the time I got my order handed to me by the supremely friendly drive-through window gent (you'll see him in our slideshow), it was 1:49. Twenty-three minutes, zoinks!

The afternoon was made a lot more charming thanks to the song (and fashion) stylings of a singing, guitar-strumming duo who call themselves Gladys and Maybelle (see video embed below). They typically busk in the Fort Worth Stockyards, but Thursday they brought their voices, their red dresses and their swanky cowgirl guitars to In-N-Out, where they sang the company's jingle.

Earlier that day -- by 8 a.m. -- the patio of the restaurant was already clustered with about seven overnight campers, part of a total crowd of about 40 In-N-Out faithful. Doors opened at about 8:30 a.m. (Another DFW In-N-Out opened today as well, at Coit & LBJ.)

First in line was Raymond Castruita Jr., a California native (aren't all the first-in-liners?) who's also a former employee. He moved to DFW about six years ago, and he's been waiting for it ever since. He came out Wednesday night at 9, and he was eventually followed by about six other die-hards.

Raymond was so hardcore that he not only parked his truck in the drive-through lane, but also staked out the first spot in front of the store's main entrance. But when Ron Russek pulled in in his SUV, Raymond ceded his drive-through spot to Ron, a familiar face to the In-N-Out die-hard crowd: he was first in line at the Allen store when it opened in May.

For Raymond's part, he and his girlfriend slept on the pavement outside the store. On a blanket (but they did not use Raymond's In-N-Out tapestry throw (he got it when he worked at the store), which he was proudly brandishing Thursday morning.

Also in the crowd waiting for the doors to open on Thursday was Phoenix Vandaele (yup, a California transplant). He got off of a 12-hour shift in Granbury at 6 a.m. and drove straight to Fort Worth. I caught up with Phoenix later, inside the restaurant, as he was about to sink his choppers into a 4x4, animal style, with chopped chiles. He opens his jaws wide and clamps down. "Wow. That is better than I remember," and he laughs giddily.

I was curious what In-N-Out spokesman Carl Van Fleet thought of the somewhat low-key morning turnout in Fort Worth. Dressed in his white In-N-Out garb, he seemed cool as a cucumber outside the restaurant just before it opened. “I think everybody that was at Frisco and Allen and saw what happened there,” Van Fleet said.

“Which was not only our first two restaurants in the Metroplex, but the first two in the entire state. And now that that newness has worn off a little bit, I’m actually real pleased with the amount of people that are here.

“It’s honestly a little easier for us to manage," Van Fleet said, "and hopefully a little better experience for the customers that come in and don’t have to wait so long, too.”

Well, as long as you go early.

Next up for In-N-Out in DFW is an Arlington location, set to open sometime in September.

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