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In-N-Out vs. Burger House. Or, Why Owning a Small Business Must Really Suck Sometimes.

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At the precise moment that I shot the above photo on Wednesday, a good 300 people were probably lined up at a fast-food burger chain up in Frisco. Maybe you heard about that? I'm guessing you did, judging from the Most Popular Stories widget at the top right of this page.

It was shot at the Park Cities Burger House, a charming little shack on Hillcrest. It was my first trip. The burger I ordered wasn't too far off from what those people were waiting in line for -- two thin patties, perfectly melted yellow cheese, fresh veggies and a lot of flavor.

It's been a while since I've had In-N-Out -- and it's gonna be a while, as long as those lines keep up -- but I'd call the burgers equal. Burger House's fries, often named the city's best, win going away. The soda selection's better at B.H. too, and the ambiance -- chipped picnic tables, walls covered in faded photos, three guys chilling in the open kitchen watching basketball -- makes In-N-Out's shiny plastic dining rooms feel like state mental hospitals.

The service was better, obviously. As I stared sadly into an empty Styrofoam cup, silently mourning the end of my cherry Coke, the boss emerged to refill it. And the prices? Not much different, especially if you factor in the fuel wasted sitting in the drive-through line.

But there we were, at prime dining time on a Wednesday night -- just about the time of the week that folks get tired of cooking at home -- and we were all alone.

I love In-N-Out -- get it every time I'm home in California. But If anything about fast food is going to make me cry, it was that empty neighborhood burger shop.

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