About 40 miles north of the Irvine headquarters of In‑N‑Out Burger, the noonday sun makes the gritty industrial landscape of Baldwin Park simmer like a Double-Double fresh off the grill.
Hulking tractor-trailers emblazoned with the fast-food chain’s familiar logo navigate the narrow asphalt arteries of a sprawling warehouse complex that serves as In‑N‑Out’s distribution center, a short distance from the spot where Harry and Esther Snyder opened their long-since-shuttered first stand back in 1948. A tour bus contingent of Asian visitors, apparently fresh from lunch at an In‑N‑Out on the edge of the complex, is now milling about in front of the In‑N‑Out University training center, snapping photos and perusing the classic car-themed memorabilia in the company gift store. The visitors’ fascination with a regional hamburger chain is no surprise, considering that over the years, In‑N‑Out—whose freshly-made, premium burgers are famously craved by Hollywood luminaries and rock stars—has become an enduring part of California’s mystique.
The sightseers don’t seem to notice an SUV pulling up. It contains a trim, athletic blonde in a chic black-on-black ensemble accessorized by a stylishly chunky rose-gold Michael Kors wristwatch and a necklace with a glittering Star of David pendant. She is just 31, but Bloomberg News recently valued the company she controls at $1.1 billion, making her the youngest woman with a 10-digit net worth in America. Forbes estimates her wealth at $500 million.