CATHEDRAL CITY – Hope remains at the forefront of conversations as the city’s development team and property owners continue working to bring the iconic In-N-Out to the community. It’s a work in progress and no one is giving up.

“It is in the hands of the property owners and development team,” Mayor Stan Henry told Uken Report. “The city is supportive and willing to work with them as much as we can. I would like to see the deal done before the end of the year, but not sure if that will happen.”

Staff continues to work with In-N-Out and its broker representative to identify development sites. High land costs are currently challenging the burger chain’s ability to secure an appropriate site.

A broker representative for the fast-food restaurant has met with Economic Development Director Stone James. The representative has reportedly evaluated the stores along Highway 111 in and around Trader Joe’s. Any potential pads in or around the Date Palm Drive and East Palm Canyon Drive area will not be considered.

In-N-Out has scouted the city before and no doubt has an interest.

Securing the eatery has been one of the mayor’s top priorities before he leaves office at the end of the year. It’s a name brand that brings recognition to a community.

“One of my priorities is to bring people to the downtown,” Henry said.

Henry said the Irvine-based restaurant was in “very serious” talks with Cathedral City about 20 years ago and then economy crashed.

“This would enhance our downtown and encourage families to come,” Henry said. “Not everyone can afford to eat at a sit-down restaurant. This would provide families an alternative. They could have dinner and go to the movies.

There are currently three In-N-Out Burger restaurants in the Coachella Valley – Indio, La Quinta and Thousand Palms.

Communities aggressively pursue the king of the “Double-Double” in large part because of its food, popularity, convenience — and the way it treats its employees. In-N-Out, a cult favorite, is one of the few fast food chains in the United States to pay its employees more than state and federally mandated minimum wage guidelines – starting at $11 per hour in California, as of May 2017. Store managers can earn more than $160,000 on average.

It is a loyal customer base, including Hollywood celebrities. Adele soothed her bruised ego with an In-N-Out Burger after she had those cringe-worthy sound issues during her performance at the 2016 Grammys and Tweeted a photo. Sam Smith is another fan.

In-N-Out Burger is also a popular staple at Oscar parties.