Which would you rather see open in Atlanta: Whataburger or In-N-Out Burger? While the former is already staking a claim in cities around metro Atlanta, the latter, known for its double-double cheeseburgers and animal-style fries, just announced plans to expand eastward into Tennessee over the next two years.
Earlier this week, California-based burger chain In-N-Out Burger announced plans to expand east of the Mississippi for the first time ever, opening locations around Nashville by 2026. A “territory office” should open in the coming months in Franklin, Tennessee, south of Nashville. Just where in Nashville and its surrounding suburbs In-N-Out Burger is targeting to open restaurants has yet to be determined, or whether the burger chain’s expansion plans could eventually include other Southern states like Georgia.
Could Georgia, or Atlanta, be on the radar for In-N-Out Burger in the future? It will all come down to the company’s policy to serve fresh, never frozen meat and only open restaurants within a few hundred miles of one of its chosen meat distribution centers, according to Restaurant Business. The Tennessee restaurants will likely procure meat from the chain’s Texas distribution center initially, which could potentially put states like Louisiana and Mississippi in play for In-N-Out Burger locations.
There are currently no Whataburger locations in the works for city of Atlanta, but if the hype (and lines) around its opening in Kennesaw this past November, and forthcoming openings in cities like Cumming, Woodstock, and Snellville, are any indication of the fervor behind burger brand loyalty, In-N-Out Burger probably has more than a few supporters here.
Whataburger isn’t the only buzzy restaurant chain making its debut in Georgia over the next five years. Canadian-based coffee and sandwich chain Tim Hortons plans to open 15 locations throughout metro Atlanta and Columbus and wildly popular northeastern convenience store chain Wawa opens its first location in southern Georgia along I-95 next year. Vegan fast-casual restaurant Planta also plans to open two Atlanta locations in 2023 at Buckhead Village and Krog Street Market in the former Watchman’s Seafood and Spirits space.
Shake Shack recently opened at Westside Provisions District in the former Yeah Burger space, becoming the fourth location of the New York-based burger chain in Atlanta, and the eighth location overall in the metro area.