Where Was the First McDonald's?

By Benjamin Elisha Sawe on July 17 2019 in Economics

A sign outside of the first McDonald's in the world in San Bernardino, California. Part of the sign is original. Editorial credit: Andrey Bayda / Shutterstock.com.
A sign outside of the first McDonald's in the world in San Bernardino, California. Part of the sign is original. Editorial credit: Andrey Bayda / Shutterstock.com.

McDonald’s is one of America’s largest fast-food companies. McDonald's was founded by two brothers in 1940 in the US as a restaurant in the state of California. It is the largest restaurant regarding revenues and serves an average of 69 million customers every single day in more than 100 countries around the world. As of 2018, it had a total of about 37,855 outlets. McDonald’s is popularly known for hamburgers, french fries, and cheeseburgers, among others. Currently, McDonald’s is among the largest employers in the world, having 1.7 million workers, behind Walmart, whose employees number 2.1 million.

Early History

Originally, the family of McDonald was living in New Hampshire, and towards the end of the 1930s, they moved to Hollywood, California. In 1937, McDonald senior opened a food stand near Monrovia Airport in Los Angeles County and named it “The Airdrome,” while his two sons Richard and Maurice McDonald, popularly known as Dick and Mac, worked at Motion-Picture studios. One of the first items sold was hot dogs and hamburgers being added later, and they sold for ten cents. In 1940, the two brothers Richard and Maurice relocated the business to San Bernardino, California, some 40 miles away and rebranded the name as McDonald’s Bar-B-Q. The restaurant had 25 different items on its menu, and they were mainly barbecue.

McDonald's Earliest Restaurant

The oldest McDonald’s restaurant that is still operational is the Sit-in Hamburger, located in Lakewood Boulevard in Downey, California. The outlet was the 3rd of the McDonald’s restaurants, and it was opened on August 18th, 1953. The outlet was also the second restaurant to be franchised by Richard and Maurice before Ray Kroc joined the company. The outlet is the oldest in existence of the McDonald's restaurants, and it is one of the main tourist attractions in Downey. In 1984 the outlet was proposed to be added in the national register of historic places, but the owner objected, and it was not added.

Ray Kroc

Kroc was one of the Red Cross Ambulance Corps during WWI. When the war ended, he went home and tried to become a musician because the unit was sent overseas. In 1939, Kroch became a distributor of multimixers, which are machines used to mix milkshakes. In 1954 he visited the McDonald Brothers and finally, became the first franchise agent. Kroc operated the first outlet in Illinois in April 1955 which was later acquired by the McDonald's in 1961 at the cost of $2.7 million.

Global Headquarters

In 2016, McDonald's announced that its global headquarters would be moved to the Near West Side in Chicago. Its former headquarters was McDonald's Plaza which is found in Oakbrook, Illinois. McDonald’s moved into the Oakbrook building in 1971, which is located in Chicago loop. The new headquarters in Near West Side covers an area of 608,000 square feet, and it is on the former site where Harpo Productions was located. The new headquarters was officially opened on June 4th, 2018.

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