1955 First McDonalds Opened - History

1955 First McDonalds Opened - History

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(4/15/55) In Des Plains, Illinois, the first McDonald'sfranchise restaurant was opened. Ray Kroc owned the restaurant.

While we credit the start of the McDonalds chain to 1955 when Ray Kroc founded his first franchise, McDonald's actually began in 1948 when the McDonalds brothers (Richard and Maurice) closed their existing restaurant to concentrate on the items that sold most- Hamburgers. On December 12, 1948, they opened their first self-service McDonalds, selling Hamburgers, Cheese Burgers, French Fries, Softdrinks and milkshakes in San Bernardino, California. The new restaurant was an immediate success. In 1952 they moved to a new building entirely designed with their needs in mind and including the golden arches. The brother agreed to franchise the restaurant into a few locals.

In 1954 Ray Kroc who was selling Multimixer Milk Shake machines noticed that the McDonalds was using eight machines in one store. Kroc was intrigued and visited the restaurant. He convinced the brothers that the McDonalds had to be franchised all over the United States and he was the man to do it. They granted him the rights to do so, except for the few areas that they had already given out franchises. In return for the rights, the McDonald brothers were to receive one half a percent of the sales of the franchises.

The first of Kroc’s restaurants opened on April 15, 1955, at 400 North Lee Street in Des Plaines, outside Chicago. By 1958 there were 32 franchises, and by 1960 there were 100. The rest is history.

Ray Kroc, the owner of Prince Castle Sales, had been selling Multimixers, machines that allowed restaurants to mix five milkshakes at one time, since 1938. In 1954, 52-year-old Kroc was surprised to learn of a small restaurant in San Bernadino, California that not only had five Multimixers but used them nearly non-stop. Before long, Kroc was on his way to visit.

The restaurant that was using the five Multimixers was McDonald’s, owned and operated by brothers Dick and Mac McDonald. The McDonald brothers had originally opened a restaurant called McDonald’s Bar-B-Q in 1940 but revamped their business in 1948 to focus on a more limited menu. McDonald's sold only nine items, which included hamburgers, chips, slices of pie, milkshakes, and drinks.

Kroc loved the McDonald’s concept of a limited menu with fast service and convinced the McDonald brothers to broaden their business with nation-wide franchises. Kroc opened his first McDonald’s the following year, on April 15, 1955, in Des Plaines, Illinois.


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McDonald’s, in full McDonald’s Corporation, American fast-food chain that is one of the largest in the world, known for its hamburgers. Its headquarters are in Oak Brook, Illinois.

The first McDonald’s restaurant was started in 1948 by brothers Maurice (“Mac”) and Richard McDonald in San Bernardino, California. They bought appliances for their small hamburger restaurant from salesman Ray Kroc, who was intrigued by their need for eight malt and shake mixers. When Kroc visited the brothers in 1954 to see how a small shop could sell so many milk shakes, he discovered a simple, efficient format that permitted the brothers to produce huge quantities of food at low prices. A basic hamburger cost 15 cents, about half the price charged by competing restaurants. The self-service counter eliminated the need for waiters and waitresses customers received their food quickly because hamburgers were cooked ahead of time, wrapped, and warmed under heat lamps.

Seeing great promise in their restaurant concept, Kroc offered to begin a franchise program for the McDonald brothers. On April 15, 1955, he opened the first McDonald’s franchise in Des Plaines, Illinois, and in the same year launched the McDonald’s Corporation, eventually buying out the McDonald brothers in 1961. The number of McDonald’s outlets would top 1,000 before the end of the decade. Boosted by steady growth, the company’s stock began trading publicly in 1965.

The public face of McDonald’s was created in 1963 with the introduction of a clown named Ronald McDonald, while the double-arch “m” symbol became McDonald’s most enduring logo in 1962, lasting far longer than the tall yellow arches that had once dominated the earlier restaurant rooftops. Other products and symbols would define the McDonald’s brand, including the Big Mac (1968), the Egg McMuffin (1973), Happy Meals (1979), and Chicken McNuggets (1983).

The chain continued to expand domestically and internationally, extending to Canada in 1967, reaching a total of 10,000 restaurants by 1988, and operating more than 35,000 outlets in more than 100 countries in the early 21st century. Growth was so swift in the 1990s that it was said a new McDonald’s opened somewhere in the world every five hours. It effectively became the most popular family restaurant, emphasizing affordable food, fun, and flavours that appealed to children and adults alike.

The success of McDonald’s brought increased criticism, much of which concerned its perceived association with a global increase in obesity. McDonald’s responded by adding healthy items to its menu, and in 2017 it released McVegan, a plant-based hamburger, which was only available in certain markets. Two years later it began testing another vegan hamburger, the P.L.T. During this time McDonald’s also eliminated supersized portions, and its U.S. and Canadian restaurants stopped using trans-fat oil in a number of items. Such measures, however, did little to stem health concerns. In addition, as one of the world’s largest private employers, McDonald’s faced numerous calls to increase wages. The term McJob was added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary to mean “low-paying job.”

In the late 20th century, McDonald’s moved beyond the hamburger business by acquiring Chipotle Mexican Grill (1998), Donatos Pizza (1999), and Boston Market (2000) in the United States, and in the United Kingdom McDonald’s purchased Aroma Cafe (1999) and an interest in Pret A Manger (2001), a sandwich restaurant chain. However, by late 2008 McDonald’s no longer owned or had a stake in any of those companies, instead concentrating on its own brand.

McDonald’s was active in charitable work. In 1974 it joined Philadelphia Eagles football player Fred Hill, whose daughter had been diagnosed with leukemia, in founding the Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia. The residence allowed families to live near the hospital where their children were receiving treatment. By the early 21st century more than 360 such houses existed around the world. The Ronald McDonald House Charities (established 1987) also supports various other efforts.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Amy Tikkanen, Corrections Manager.

McDonald&aposs begins to franchise 

With labor costs slashed and revenue growing to $350,000 a year by the early 1950s, the McDonald brothers saw their profits double. They had already established a handful of franchises in California and Arizona by the time a milkshake mixer salesman named Ray Kroc visited San Bernardino in 1954. Kroc couldn’t understand why the McDonalds could possibly need eight of his Multi-Mixers, capable of making 48 milkshakes at once, for just one location until he set eyes on the operation.

Seeing the potential in the business, the salesman quickly became the buyer. Kroc bought the rights to franchise the brothers’ restaurants across the country, and in 1955 he opened his first McDonald’s in Des Plaines, Illinois.

Exterior view of the first McDonald&aposs fast food restaurant with its neon arches illuminated at night, in Des Plaines, Illinois, circa 1955.

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The relationship between Kroc and the McDonald brothers quickly grew very contentious as the aggressive salesman and the conservative Yankees had different philosophies about how to run their business. Kroc chafed at the requirement that he receive a registered letter from the McDonalds to make any changes to the retail concept—something the brothers were reluctant to grant. “It was almost as though they were hoping I would fail,” Kroc wrote in his 1977 autobiography, Grinding It Out.

Pulling Back the Curtain on McDonald’s Golden Arches

By utilizing this new format for fast food, the brothers garnered kitchen appliance salesman Ray Kroc who helped them with appliances. Kroc later bought the rights to begin franchising McDonald’s restaurants across the country. At the time, the brothers had opened a small number of franchise restaurants in Arizona and California.

In 1955, Kroc— surprisingly not the brothers— officially formed the McDonald’s Corporation, and Kroc opened his first franchised restaurant in Des Plaines, Illinois.

Before then, Architect Stanley Meston designed the red and white tiled building with the Golden Arches in 1953. The sales for its first day in business came in at $366.12. For perspective, the restaurant chain makes approximately $57,745,205 per day in revenue.

Even though Maurice and Richard McDonald created the first restaurant and superior business model, it’s actually Kroc who founded McDonald’s that we see today. Six years later, Kroc bought out the founders and took over the company.

According to its website, McDonald’s continues to expand to this day. The company began opening international McDonald’s beginning in 1967 in Canada and Puerto Rico. Today, the company has over 36,000 restaurants in over 100 nations, with its most recent international opening in Kazakhstan in 2016.

1955 First McDonalds Opened - History

Pulling into the Mars Drive-in for a Lime Rickey. Ordering up a burger from the car hop at the A&W on Blackstone. Checking out the action at Bob's Big Boy. Your favorite grilled cheese sandwich at the Woolworths Counter. Don't forget loading up at Perry Boys Smorgy. What eats do you miss?

McDonalds on Blackstone & Shields

Post by Lost Fresno » Thu Feb 07, 2019 10:55 am

Perhaps the granddaddy of all fast food outlets in Fresno is the McDonalds at Fresno's most busy intersection. My earliest memory was from 1961 when the family decided to drive over for take out burgers and fries. Then fast forward to 1972, one of my best friend's wedding party decided to have the pre-wedding lunch there. We went in our tux as a goof. Here is what Google says:

In July 1955, Ray Kroc, who had begun taking over the chain from the original McDonald's brothers, opened his own first sub-franchisee at this location in Fresno. The original structure at Blackstone and Shields Avenues was demolished for a contemporary style structure in the 1970s. That was later demolished, for this new building replicating a style similar to original one here. This Fresno site is named the "first McDonald's restaurant franchised by Ray Kroc" — on a plaque placed on the site.

Re: McDonalds on Blackstone & Shields

Post by Lost Fresno » Thu Feb 07, 2019 10:59 am

The official McDonalds website says this on their history page:

McDonald’s in Fresno, California illustrating the transition from the Red and White—to its remodel—with the eventual opening of the Mansard design in the 1973.

The first McDonald's opened 77 years ago today — here's what it was like

What is now the biggest fast-food chain in the world began as a small hamburger stand in San Bernardino, California, 77 years ago on May 15, 1940.

Two brothers, Dick and Maurice "Mac" McDonald, opened the stand as "McDonald's Bar-B-Q."

They later shut it down and reopened it in 1948, with a pared-down menu of just nine items, including hamburgers (.15) cheeseburgers (.19 cents) and drinks, such as coffee, Coca-Cola, and Orangeade, for .10.

Here's a picture of the stand from 1948:

Kroc had received a "huge" order of eight mixers from the brothers and he was intrigued, according to McDonald's. Kroc went to California to check out the business and "was stunned by the effectiveness of their operation."

Kroc convinced the brothers to give him franchise rights to their business, which he acquired in 1955. He opened the first McDonald's franchise, pictured below, in 1955 in Des Plaines, Ill.

An undated photo of Kroc below shows him standing in front of what appears to be a rendering of the Des Plaines restaurant.

By 1958, McDonald’s had sold 100 million hamburgers and two years later, Kroc bought exclusive rights to the McDonald's name.

The company began rapidly building new restaurants and in 1965, there were 700 McDonald's restaurants throughout the US.

Timeline of McDonald&aposs

Arguably one of the most impressive elements of McDonald&aposs corporate history is how little modern history it has. During its first decades, McDonald&aposs worked to establish its business model and brand. Since that time it has found an approach that works. The company&aposs modern history is noteworthy specifically for its relatively few items of note. McDonald&aposs has continued its rapid growth for nearly 70 years and, while it has gained and lost customers, new restaurants have opened at a steady pace.

To a degree that few other businesses can claim, the McDonald&aposs approach can be described as "if it ain&apost broke, don&apost fix it."

  • 1937 - The McDonald brothers start their hot dog stand, getting into the food service business as a team.
  • 1940 - They open their barbecue restaurant in San Bernardino, the world&aposs first McDonald&aposs restaurant. There is no current information on whether they sold barbecue rib sandwiches, but we would like to think they did. 
  • 1948 - The McDonald brother turn their restaurant into a hamburger and milkshake restaurant, and in the process are credited with inventing the modern service model of fast food. In later memoirs the brothers would credit their process to Henry Ford, saying that they modeled their restaurant around his assembly lines in Detroit.
  • 1953 - McDonald&aposs opens its first franchise restaurant in Phoenix. While not a focus of Maurice and Richard McDonald, they did open multiple restaurants in Arizona and California during the company&aposs early years.
  • 1954 - Ray Kroc, a traveling appliance salesman, visits the McDonald&aposs restaurant to discover why a small hamburger shop needs as many milkshake machines as it does. He buys the rights to franchise McDonald&aposs restaurants across the country.
  • 1955 - Kroc opens his first franchised restaurant, arguably the first restaurant of the modern McDonald&aposs company, in Des Plaines, Illinois.
  • 1956 - Kroc and Harry Sonnenborn develop a financial model in which McDonald&aposs would own the land on which its franchisees build their restaurants. That model continues to this day, and is often considered one of the most significant financial decisions the company has ever made.
  • 1959 - Kroc names Sonnenborn the first CEO of the McDonald&aposs company.
  • 1961 - Kroc buys out the McDonald brothers for $2.6 million (approximately $22.3 million in 2019 equivalent). The brothers keep their original restaurant, renamed Big M. Kroc later opened a competing McDonald&aposs nearby that drove them and the first-ever McDonald&aposs out of business by the end of the decade.
  • 1962/63 - McDonald&aposs launches its two most recognizable logos: the golden arches and Ronald McDonald.
  • 1965 - McDonald&aposs launches its public stock.
  • 1967 - Kroc pushes Sonnenborn out and takes the position of CEO himself. Meanwhile, McDonald&aposs opens its first international restaurant in Canada.
  • 1974 - The first Ronald McDonald House opens.
  • 1984 - Kroc dies.
  • 1990 - McDonald&aposs opens a restaurant in Pushkin Square, Moscow. Given the cultural status of the restaurant, this is seen as a symbolic moment in the end of the Cold War. According to the restaurant&aposs website, it served more than 30,000 Russian citizens on the first day.
  • 1993 - The company opens its first McCafe, McDonald&aposs attempt to run a coffee restaurant, in Australia.
  • 1996 - McDonald&aposs has entered an era of rapid growth. From 1988 - 1996 the company doubles its number of restaurants, opening location number 20,000 this year.
  • 1998/1999 - McDonald&aposs as a corporation begins to aggressively expand past its traditional business model. It acquires companies including Chipotle (CMG) - Get Report ਊnd Boston Market, although it would later divest itself of these holdings.
  • 2000 - By the end of the 1990s, McDonald&aposs has opened more than 11,000 restaurants outside of the U.S.
  • 2013 - In another symbolic moment, McDonald&aposs opens its first restaurant in Vietnam.
  • 2015 - In an effort to create new energy around its brand, McDonald&aposs launches its all-day breakfast menu. This has largely been regarded as a failure, as it generally regarded as splitting an existing customer base rather than bringing new customers into the restaurant.

Life After Retirement

Kroc retired in 1974, and purchased the San Diego Padres. The year after he bought the team, attendance improved substantially. When he died in 1984, the team wore a patch with his initials, RAK that same year, the Padres played in the World Series and in 1999, Kroc was inducted into the Padres Hall of Fame.

Kroc suffered a stroke in 1980 and then entered an alcohol rehabilitation facility. He died of heart failure in 1984. After Kroc’s death, Joan, his third wife, increased philanthropy, including a 1.5 million dollar donation to the Salvation Army to build Kroc Centers, community centers to serve underserved neighborhoods.

McDonald's No. 1 Store Museum

The McDonald's #1 Store Museum [2] was housed in a replica of the former McDonald's restaurant in Des Plaines, Illinois, opened by Ray Kroc in April 1955. The company usually refers to this as The Original McDonald's, although it is not the first McDonald's restaurant but the ninth the first was opened by Richard and Maurice McDonald in San Bernardino, California in 1940, while the oldest McDonald's still in operation is the third one built, in Downey, California, which opened in 1953. However, the Des Plaines restaurant marked the beginning of future CEO Kroc's involvement with the firm. It opened under the aegis of his franchising company McDonald's Systems, Inc., which became McDonald's Corporation after Kroc purchased the McDonald brothers' stake in the firm.

The actual restaurant was demolished in 1984, but McDonald's realized they had a history to preserve, so they built a replica. With golden arches placed over a glass and metal, red-and-white tiled exterior, the building largely follows the McDonald brothers' original blueprints, which they had introduced when they began franchising in 1953 a Phoenix, Arizona, restaurant was the first built in this manner. Kroc's restaurant was the first McDonald's built in a colder climate, and some adaptations were made to the design, including a basement and a furnace.

McDonald's announced that the building would be torn down as early as the end of 2017 due to repeated flooding of the site, [3] the completed demolition ended in mid 2018. [4] McDonald's has decided to donate the land to the city for grassy park area. [5] [6]

The entrance sign was original, with early cartoon mascot "Speedee," representing the innovative Speedee Service System, inspired by assembly-line production which the McDonald brothers had introduced in 1948. It was, however, moved from its original location at the south end of the property. The sign boasted "We have sold over 1 million." The replica museum offered irregular summer hours and was often closed tours were by appointment. The ground floor exhibited original fry vats, milkshake Multimixers (which Kroc had sold when he first encountered the San Bernardino McDonald's restaurant), soda barrels, and grills, attended to by a crew of male mannequins in 1950s uniforms. Visitors can walk in through the back or look through the order windows in front (there was no sit-down restaurant section in 1955). In the basement is a collection of vintage ads, photos, and a video about McDonald's history.

A new, modern McDonald's was built across the street and to the south, replacing a Howard Johnson's restaurant (then Ground Round). At this McDonald's there are a half dozen glass-enclosed exhibits arrayed around the tables, including red and white tiles from the original restaurant and string ties worn by employees from the 1950s to the early 1970s. [7] [8]

The Big Mac Museum Restaurant, another McDonald's museum, opened on August 23, 2007, in Irwin, Pennsylvania, on Route 30 Lincoln Hwy.

See Early Ads and Photographs From the McDonald's Archives

It was 60 years ago this week, on April 15, 1955, that Ray Kroc opened his first McDonald’s franchise, in Des Plaines, Ill. It wasn’t the first McDonald’s restaurant (two brothers actually named McDonald had started the California-based company) but it was the first step on the road to chain-restaurant domination.

As McDonald’s enters its seventh decade, here’s a look back at images and advertisements from its first few decades &mdash including two, numbers one and three in the slideshow above, which have never before been published outside the company. The company has changed over the years, going international, transitioning from a hamburger joint to a company that sells bed linens, making news with labor issues and breakfast menus alike. But not everything has changed: look closely at the photos of the earliest locations and you’ll notice the telltale golden arches.

Correction: The original version of this article mistakenly identified the Des Plaines, Ill., McDonald’s as the company’s first franchise location. It was Ray Kroc’s first franchise location.

Watch the video: 1955 A tribute to the beginning