Miller and his CaliBurger team hail from Santa Monica and have backgrounds in the tech industry. Because of the former, they see In-N-Out as an example of the ideal burger. Because of the latter, they spent significant time in Asia. It was there they realized that the premium burger -- the one occupying the space between McDonald's and high-end restaurants -- didn't exist on that side of the Pacific. So, with inspiration from their hometown favorite, they built it.
Rather than just open a carbon copy of In-N-Out, they turned it up a notch. "When Starbucks came to China, people scoffed because the Chinese drink tea, not coffee," Miller explained. "But they do go there, to show they're American." And so the concept was born: come to Caliburger not just to eat a premium California-style burger, but also to experience the aspirational California lifestyle. The Shanghai store opened with palm trees on the logo, Napa Valley wines, and "Cali-babes" as mascots.