New In-N-Out plans to open in San Clemente by the end of 2021

RENDER of the new In-N-Out at night. Image provided by City of San Clemente

Nathan Melcher  | Computer Design Editor

February 7, 2021

The plan to move forward with the planning and construction of a new In-N-Out in San Clemente was approved at a January 19 city council meeting. This means that by the end of 2021, we should see an In-N-Out fully constructed and operational in San Clemente. More information on the project can be found here.

The new In-N-Out is set to be located at 115 Via Pico Plaza, just a short walk from SCHS. It is also in close proximity to a very industrial part of San Clemente.

This isn’t the first time that In-N-Out has tried to build a restaurant in San Clemente. “In-N-Out applied 14 years ago,” City Councilman Steve Knoblock said. The original location that In-N-Out applied for is just across the freeway from where it is going today. The Pico Starbuck’s site was the original location that was requested for the new restaurant, but was denied due to concerns of a drive-thru being insufficient and spilling excess cars onto Avenida Pico. This concern was remedied with the

PROJECT SITE for the new location. Image provided by City of San Clemente

new location allowing for a 30 car drive-thru with more space on Via Pico Plaza if there are more than 30 cars in the drive-thru at a given time. A diagram of the new parking and drive-thru layout can be found here (page 8).

Even with this new location, there is still some traffic concern regarding the opening and time thereafter. “I believe that like the outlet malls, the initial surge in traffic will exist,” junior Lucas Rapeepat said. “Yet [similar to the] outlets, the craziness will die down a little over time. It’ll still be busy though.” Concerns for traffics are definitely on the minds of city council members appeals have already been made concerning this issue.

Another lesser-known issue was only on the minds of city council members when this decision was made, which is the classic In-N-Out red stripe on the side of the building. The red LEDs seen on the side of the current In-N-Outs were contested at the city council meetings as council members felt that they wouldn’t fit the aesthetic of San Clemente. Changes were proposed and eventually, it was decided that a dimmer would be installed to ensure that no light pollution would disturb other businesses and residents, according to Katie Crockett, an associate planner for the city. This dimmer should resolve all issues in the light pollution regard. 

CLASSIC RED LIGHTS seen on the In-N-Out San Juan location. Jason Watkins/Triton Times

The location for the new In-N-Out is currently the location of two bank buildings, which will be demolished after all planning phases are completed. This location was chosen due to its proximity to the freeway, while also providing enough parking and area of an acceptable drive-thru.

“I think it’s a good location for In-N-Out. However, for our city, I don’t know. It’s going to hurt the nearby restaurants a lot, as well as bring in a lot of traffic, hurting those who get off the 5 to get to SCHS,” senior Regis Pak said. “However, an In-N-Out is an In-N-Out, and I’m not complaining [if] there’s one closer to my house.”

This new location, with its proximity to the high school, will provide another option for students who leave campus for lunch. There are only a few restaurants near the school, and McDonald’s is the most recognizable. “McDonald’s is the [only] restaurant in the industry that competes with it, and people will never stop going there,” Rapeepat said. 

The restaurant has had to make changes to their original plans since the city would like the appearance of the building to more match the ‘Village-by-the-Sea’ atmosphere. These changes include red brick roofs, along with blue and green accents, and a request for the logo to be gray on a rock wall. The building style seems to be very similar to that of the Outlets. The recommendations made by the city council can be seen in this document on pages 15-21.

This In-N-Out will be a welcomed addition to San Clemente and many students are excited at the idea of another restaurant to go and get lunch from. While it won’t be open for this school year, it is planned to be open around the start of next semester.

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