McDonald’s is everywhere. This fast food franchise is present in 119 countries and serves 69 million customers each day. But this giant of a franchise had very humble origins. It all started in 1940 when two brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald opened a barbecue restaurant at 1398 North E Street at West 14th Street in San Bernardino, California. The name of the restaurant was “McDonald’s Famous Barbeque,” and there were 40 barbeque items on the menu.
In October 1948, the brothers realized that their burgers were the most profitable item. They simplified their menu and sold only burgers, potato chips, and orange juice. The next year, they also started selling French Fries and Coca Cola. The small menu and efficient preparation using assembly line principles brought burger costs down to just 15 cents, half of what other sit-in restaurants were selling for.
In 1953, the brothers started to franchise their profitable restaurant. They began with Phoenix, Arizona and Downey, California. In 1954, the McDonald brothers permitted Multimixer Milkshake Machines seller, Ray Kroc, to establish McDonald’s restaurants throughout the country.
On April 15, 1955, McDonald’s opened a new restaurant in Des Plaines, Illinois, and became a corporation. That restaurant is referred to as the original McDonald’s because it was the start of the unbelievable growth of the McDonald’s franchise.
The McDonald’s at San Bernardino, California and Des Plaines, Illinois are now replica museums and they have on display exhibits such as original fry vats and soda barrels. Also on display are milkshake Multimixers, the items Ray Kroc sold when he first visited the San Bernardino restaurant, and food grills being operated by male mannequins in 1950’s uniforms.
Visitors can walk into the restaurant from the back or look through the order windows. Also in the museum are records of vintage ads, photos and videos, all of which tell the story of one of the most famous and successful fast food franchises in history.