Not far off Route 66 in San Bernardino is a piece of American business history – the original restaurant of fast-food giant McDonald’s. A local fast-food franchise company now owns this site and has turned it into a museum.
Scenes of the original McDonald’s:
Not actually part of Route 66 history, this is the site of the first McDonald’s. Opened in 1948 by brothers Richard (Dick) and Maurice (Mac) McDonald, this site shares similar history to Route 66 as they were both growing during the same period of time.
The McDonald brothers began franchising their fast-food system beginning in 1953. They were built with a standard design, which included the company’s universally recognized “golden arches”. A second restaurant, this one owned by a franchisee, was opened in Downey, California, which remains open to this day.
In 1954, businessman Ray Kroc met the McDonald brothers while selling restaurant equipment to them, specifically milkshake mixing machines. Kroc became inspired with the financial potential of the concept the McDonald brothers started. He would later partner with the brothers and Kroc grew the concept into a huge corporation. The brothers wanted to stay small, so in 1961, he bought the business from the brothers and Kroc continued to grow McDonald’s into what it is today.
The owner of the McDonald’s site is Albert Okura, who not only owns the Juan Pollo restaurant chain but also the owner of the classic Route 66 town site of Amboy. Mr. Okura is an avid Route 66 enthusiast and supporter. Thanks to him, we can all enjoy this piece of American history that blends in with another part of American history – Route 66.
As of May 2016, the museum is open daily from 10-5, but call ahead of time if you are planning your visit in case the operating hours have changed. The phone number is 909-885-6324.
The nearest route segment of Route 66 is Mt. Vernon Ave. From this street (which is Route 66), turn east onto Base Line Road. Continue east for 1.1 miles, crossing over the freeway (I-215). At 1.1 miles, turn left (north) on “E” Street. The McDonald’s site will be on your left in 0.3 miles.
The address is 1398 North E Street at West 14th Street in San Bernardino.