This is one in a series of special Langley Advance Times stories about what to expect at this year’s Langley Good Times Cruise-In, happen Saturday, Sept. 9 in Aldergrove. You can also check out this series in our special keepsake edition hitting the streets on Thursday and available in limited quantity at the car show.
Presence of a U.S. burger giant at Langley Good Times Cruise-In still garners near hysteria, as fans line up for hours ahead of time to ensure they get an In-N-Out meal.
But it’s about much more than die-hard burger lovers just quenching their craving, suggested Cruise-In president Riccardo Sestito. It’s about offering this unique experience – found in only one place in Canada – from a restaurant that is synonymous with collector and custom cars, and it’s about giving all proceeds back to Langley-specific charities.
That’s a winning combination that keeps the In-N-Out Burger team wanting to come back year after year to Cruise-In, and it is also what keeps attendees at the show clamouring for the In-N-Out Double-Double meal package, said Sestito.
In-N-Out is a family owned and operated business that’s been around since 1948, when Harry Snyder opened California’s first drive-thru hamburger stand. Still based entirely in the U.S., 75 years later that single store has grown into close to 350 locations in seven states: California, Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Texas, and Oregon.
While the company participates in many car shows in the U.S. each year, this is the one-and-only visit of its colourful cookout trailer north of the 49th Parallel into Canada annually, and it’s Langleyites who benefit from said excursion, Sestito elaborated.
Not only do In-N-Out fans get to enjoy the infamous burgers, but local charities benefit to the tune of about $15,000 a year.
“That’s huge. We get quite a bit from them,” said Sestito.
In-N-Out’s participation and donation make up a large chunk of the money Cruise-In is able to funnel back into the community through donations to charities each year.
Last year, for example, Cruise-In was able to give away about $70,000 – a majority going to their two main charities of choice and the rest going to about a dozen other local groups or community initiatives.
“We couldn’t have done that without the team at In-N-Out,” Sestito said.
Once again, In-N-Out will be serving up its Double-Double burgers featuring two fresh beef patties and two slices of cheese, accompanied by lettuce, tomato, and their popular spread, on a bun.
While the spread is their own unique recipe, similar to Thousand Island dressing, there are no super secret ingredients that singularly make the burgers so popular, said Luis Hernandez, the manager of special foreign events.
He’s convinced it’s the combination and their emphasis on fresh ingredients that make them so “delectable” and motivate Cruise-In patrons to stand in line – sometimes for hours – to get their hands and mouth wrapped around one of the burgers.
This year’s burger package, complete with a bag of chips and a medium drink, will sell for $15.
When they first started coming up to Cruise-In in 2004, the burgers sold for $6. They’ve gone up since then to $8, $10, and were at $12 for a number of years – until this year, Sestito said.
It’s still a great deal, he said, chuckling and noting In-N-Out fans are obviously willing to pay even more.
Tickets go on sale about 7:30
Somehow this summer, there was a mix up on the Cruise-In website, and someone mistook the car registration button as a place they could pre-order and pay for the burger meals. Purchases of perceived website burgers suddenly went crazy, forcing Cruise-In to issue a clarification and refund a lot of money to disappointed burger lovers.
Meal tickets are only sold on the day of Cruise-In, Saturday, Sept. 9, on site in the Re/Max parking lot.
This year, tickets will go on sale at about 7:30 a.m., and In-N-Out is expected to start cooking as early as 8 a.m. – many consumers opting to have the meal for breakfast, while others will hold onto their tickets and redeem them later in the day. There will be 1,600 tickets sold, and 1,600 burger meals made, Sestito noted.
Once again he expects the meal tickets will be sold out within a few hours. There has yet to be a year when tickets were not all gone well before lunch, Sestito said.
Planning between In-N-Out and Cruise-In began back in February, and organizers have it down to a relative science, including arrangements for a half dozen or so staff to drive the special truck up through the border and the rest to fly in the night before the show – and to turn around and head back home the morning after.
Admittedly, there’s typically some kind of hiccup getting the necessary permits and customs approvals to bring the In-N-Out team, the truck, and all the food across the border – whether that be issues bringing up the beef, the vegetables, or cheese. But every year, solutions have been found, and the team makes it here, noted Sestito and Hernandez.
This year, they were both hesitant to jinx the process, but said all the advance planning for the 2023 show are proceeding through “smoothly.”
“We’re A-okay there,” Hernandez said.
It’s come a long ways from that first year in 2004, when In-N-Out came up after ongoing pestering from Sestito and others on the board at the time.
They all agreed to do a trial run. In-N-Out set up a small cook trailer in the parking lot of the original Value Village store (before the fire) and across from what later would become Cascades Casino, and they started feeding the masses.
As word spread at the show of their presence, and despite the existence of other charity-run concessions and local restaurants, the response that first year was overwhelming.
No one could believe or anticipated the reaction, Sestito said.
“It was complete and utter mayhem… we were sold out within an hour or so… we had lines of people everywhere… and we were completely knocked off our feet… And In-N-Out was totally blown away they sold out so fast.”
Systems have long since been put in place, bugs ironed out, and In-N-Out burgers will once again be devoured during this year’s Cruise-In in Aldergrove.
Hernandez, who will be coming to oversee the show for In-N-Out for a second time, said 10 to 15 associates will be joining him, and he noted the excitement around this quick excursion north is mounting among his team.
“They’re pumped to be able to go to a different country and to serve Double-Doubles,” he said, noting In-N-Out participates in a number of charity event State-side, but helping in Canada makes the trip extra special.
“We’re excited to be part of it again, and to be part of this tradition of giving.”