McDonald’s restaurants have been putting smiles on the faces of the general public for a whopping eighty-plus years! That sure is a long time, and although they didn’t officially become a hamburger joint until 1948, after they renovated their then drive-in BBQ stand, their success sure came in record time, making them the most popular franchise in America and soon after, the world and all because of their famous 15 cent burgers. Let’s take a look at the oldest operating McDonald’s location still standing and a few facts you may not have known.
10. The Location opened on August 18th, 1953
To say that McDonald’s restaurants have become quite the phenomenon would be a blatant understatement. McDonald’s is and has been for quite some time now, the quintessential fast food restaurant the world over, and for very good reason. The golden arches that are set high in the sky on many highways leading in and out of America have enticed many to drive onto their lots set around the world and the tummy rumblings those arches have induced can be clearly heard from around the globe. Their advertising campaigns alone have been some of the most successful, but it is perhaps their long tenure that is the most impressive of feats for this once humble drive-in restaurant. It was in 1937 that Richard and Maurice McDonald opened their first ever BBQ stand and it wouldn’t be long for the public to tell them what they liked most at their Monrovia Airport location … the succulent hamburgers, of course. But before they expanded and opened up the location in question, they did a little revamp of course. It was in 1948 that the McDonald brothers renovated and changed up the menu of their restaurant, concentrating on their famed hamburgers. At first, they offered orange juice and potato chips to go along with the burgers, but ultimately added fries and cola to go along. The change definitely registered with many of their clientele, and they were on their way to becoming a conglomerate worthy of attention. So, it was no wonder that they finally opened the location that still stands to this day on August 18th, 1953, a little over a decade after getting into business for the first time.
9. The Location is Located in California
That’s right … should one want to visit this historic landmark and authentic trip to the past, a trip to sunny California would be necessary and who doesn’t want to go to California? The location is nestled at 10207 Lakewood Boulevard, Florence Avenue, Downey, California. So jot it down and take note, as many prefer to visit this establishment as opposed to the more modern locations set up around the state of California. A trip down memory lane is always better than dwelling in the moment and current state of fast food conglomerates. Besides, it’s always good to go back and experience a piece of history, isn’t it? And of course, California is known for some pretty epic places to eat. After all, all the great TV Chefs and personalities have set up shop there, and ell, if one can make it there in the food industry, they can pretty much make it anywhere. The clientele there is quite picky and the public in the area have taken down their fair share of restaurants in their day. So to say that this location has flourished is saying something indeed.
8. It was Only the Third McDonald’s Location
There were in fact two previous locations, the first being the original BBQ stand that Maurice and Richard opened in 1937. But of course after the public let them know what they were after—the hamburgers—they quickly changed direction and their outlook changed as well. So it was for the following decade or so that the brothers perfected their service standards, and it wasn’t long before their restaurant was serving the absolute best burgers around, and in record time, officially garnering them the merits that went along with the term “fast food.” So after that time, they were more than ready to spread their wings, so to speak, and open up other locations, the Downey, California location being the third overall. And as is the general way of things, the success of these locations would bring the attention of a very influential and important figure; one that would catapult the restaurant and franchise to the moon and back.
7. Was the Last Location before Ray Kroc got Involved
And so, the Downey location would mark the last location to be opened by the McDonald brothers, as their “little burger stand” had garnered itself quite the following and reputation, and one man, a very influential man in particular, would come calling and change the brothers’ lives forever. Considered one of the one-hundred most influential people of the twentieth century by Time Magazine, Kroc got his humble start as a milkshake mixer salesman. The post-war era was a hotbed for salesmen everywhere, with the industrial revolution sparking countless gadgets to be sold, and salesmen form all around the country were traveling door to door peddling knick knacks made to make the public’s life that much easier. Well, Kroc was one of these salesmen, and he did his job with a certain amount of gusto that made him quite successful. But from the beginning, he had an eye for what would work and what wouldn’t. So when he came across a humble but successful burger stand, he no doubt saw dollar signs floating somewhere up ahead, and he wasted no time in getting involved. Had he not have gotten involved, many have wondered if the world would be enjoying as many McDonald’s locations as it has. He opened his first location in 1955, located in Des Plaines, Illinois in partnership with the McDonald brothers.
6. It Isn’t Just a Museum
And just in case you were wondering, the third location that still stands today isn’t just a museum, or rather a trip down memory lane. It’s still operating and many that have flocked to its location have enjoyed countless meals at the rustic stand, taking the world back to much simpler times and a classic way of enjoying the McDonald’s experience. But yes, the location is full of pieces of memorabilia and is a great way to get to know a bit about the humble beginnings of the restaurant and furthermore see just how far the company has come since its inception. It’s always a marvel to stare upon the images of the past, or rather the infrastructure of the past and see just how far society has come. This location is a perfect spot for that, calling to mind a sense of nostalgia for those who were there when it all began, and at the same time bringing a sense of wonder to those who weren’t. Who knew a restaurant could do all of that? But that’s the power that comes from being around for so long.
5. Ah … Those Golden Arches
Perhaps there is no greater symbol in the food industry; no greater emblem to call flocks of people forward. And very much like the bell calling workers in for “quitting time,” or lunch time, the now famous golden arches of McDonald’s restaurants have called many off of highways and roads the world over. And it’s very much like the infamous Pavlov experiment of yore … ring a bell and they will salivate. And the American public has indeed salivated and been called forth to dine, time and time again. But interestingly enough, the McDonald brothers weren’t the first to use the arches at one of their locations, and furthermore, neither was Ray Kroc! It was actually a franchisee by the name of Neil Fox. The arches were designed by architect Stanley Clark Meston and Charles Fish. The McDonald brothers and Kroc would subsequently use the arches at all following locations and for very good reason, as the arches did appeal to the public and yes they did seem to act as a beacon to motorists and passersby. A stroke of genius one might say.
4. The Location Was Not Subject To Modernization
Well, it wouldn’t be long before Ray Kroc would buy out the McDonald brothers and if there was heartache on their part, it didn’t last long, as A) their restaurant was in good hands and B) Kroc had surely made it worth their while. By doing so, Kroc was able to unify all locations, making a chain and franchise out of them, thus being able to modernize each location, giving them all similar looks and styles, and by doing this, the public was made aware that the restaurants were in fact a conglomerate and no longer a mom and pop joint operating as best as it could. No … now with the modern designs and the golden arches as a powerful emblem, the McDonald’s franchise was set to grow, and to heights that were probably not expected at the time. Interestingly enough, however, the third location in Downey, California was not subject to these changes and modernization. It was allowed to stay as it was and this fact rang true with the public and even Kroc himself. The decision seems to have paid off, as many appreciate this location because of its look and old school style. For this particular location, keeping up with the status quo seemed to be the right way to go. Why mess up a good thing, right? But why was this location left out of the mix? Why had they been singled out as the one McDonald’s restaurant not to have to change with the rest of them?
3. The Third Location Was an Independent Franchise until 1990
This probably remains a shock for many, as the location survived as an independent franchise as long as it did. It can definitely be seen as a testament to the standard of keeping things as they were and America’s appreciation for history and heritage. The location stuck to its standards of operation and service no matter how fast things wer moving by the eighties, and when Kroc’s locations were changing up their menus and offering the conglomerate heavyweight burger, known as the now famous Big Mac, they stuck to their old standard and simple menu, going as far as not even offering the burger of all burgers that all other locations were offering. It was unfortunately because of this that the Downey location started to suffer, as a location was opened a few blocks away and yes, it offered all the modernizations available at that time and the public was finally pulled away from heritage and all in favor of the ultimate Big Mac and the euphoria it promised in the form of succulent taste and the now famous third piece of bread at the center of the sandwich. So, it was unwilling, but the independent franchise was finally made to give in after suffering some low sales and was made to be part of the conglomerate chain officially and this meant that a modernization was in order, which also came with an expansion of the menu. Essentially, the Big Mac was now in da house!
2. The Historic Location Was Almost Lost
It was in 1994, only a few short years after joining the McDonald’s Corporation in full, the location was almost lost completely, and we ask what would the world be without this single most authentic McDonald’s location? Well, the world being what it is, it probably would have moved forward, but there is a small fraction, or on a better day, perhaps a larger portion of people that would have missed this location had it gone the way of all the other pieces of the rich McDonald’s history. But thankfully, the world will never have to know, as it still stands where it was built today. And why did the location almost perish? Well, as it turned out, the restaurant in Downey had suffered considerable damage after an earthquake and the place was declared unsafe to stay open, thus it was destined to be demolished soon after. But when this was discovered by the National Trust of Historic Preservation, the plans to demolish the building and restaurant were thwarted and rightfully so. The location was declared one of the eleven most historic buildings in the area and was said to be a major part of the area’s rich history. So instead of being destroyed, it was restored and made safe again. It was also regarded as one of America’s most endangered buildings and since all this went down, it has become one of the most sought after tourist attractions. Just goes to show that sometimes a bad thing can turn into a positive. So there’s to looking at the glass as half full, folks.
1. With Such History Comes Great Responsibility
So in looking at this location, we see a restaurant with a storied past, a deep-rooted part of the McDonald’s franchise history, and we recognize what an important part of history it is. The fact that it’s still here for people of this generation and future generations to enjoy is quite a marvel indeed and one that hasn’t escaped many who have walked through its doors. To be able to eat the food and enjoy the memories that the site represents is something that should be cherished and shared with one and all. And of course, that’s exactly what it does. It’s a piece of history in the form of a restaurant, and a fast food restaurant of all things, but perhaps this location alone takes it a step further, rendering it an experience all its own, and at the end of the day, how many restaurants can guarantee that? Probably none. But for those men and women that work at this location, the burden of responsibility is that much more severe. And of course, we don’t mean that in a bad way, as it’s normal to assume that the responsibility here is far more of an honor than say working at the local McDonald’s that opened just last month. This is in fact obvious to most, but to be able to go into work and put on a uniform that was once worn by the McDonald brothers themselves, and serve the food they once served, and in the same building is quite special indeed, wouldn’t you say? So let’s raise our cups of cola and say a hearty cheer to the men that brought the location to the world, and those that kept it alive all these years, as the responsibility that this location takes to run and keep alive is quite hefty indeed.