The Birth of a Franchise


McDonald’s is the biggest fast food chain in the world, and they are only getting bigger and bigger. They have over 38,000 locations, and can be found in over 100 countries, but McDonald’s was not always this big.


The first McDonald’s restaurant was opened in 1940 by brothers Maurice and Richard McDonald in San Bernardino, California. When they originally opened for business, the restaurant was strictly a drive-in, meaning customers would not go inside the actual building itself. They would park outside and waiters would come and serve them. But the McDonald brothers decided to change the nature of their restaurant into what we know today. The goal of the restaurant was to produce large amounts of food at cheap prices. To make this possible, the menu was limited to hamburgers, potato chips (eventually transitioned to french fries), drinks, and pie. McDonald’s also prided themselves on speedy service. To accomplish this, they pre-cooked their burgers and placed them underneath heat lamps to keep them warm. These tactics allowed them to charge just 15 cents for a hamburger. At the time, this was about half the price of competing restaurants. So, not surprisingly, McDonalds blew up and eventually became the most successful fast food restaurant in the world.


Ray Kroc was an appliance salesman that became very intrigued by the restaurant when the McDonald brothers purchased eight malt and shake mixers. When he visited the restaurant in 1954, he was more than impressed with what he saw. He became fascinated with the potential of the business and wanted to be a part of it. Lucky for him, the McDonald brothers were looking for a new franchising agent. Kroc jumped at this opportunity and joined the brothers, and in 1955 Kroc launched McDonald’s Systems, Inc. He also opened up the first McDonald’s franchise east of the Mississippi River. Kroc eventually decided that he wanted to buy the complete rights to the McDonald’s name. So in 1961, he bought out the McDonald brothers for a price of 2.7 million dollars.


From here, McDonald’s exploded into the biggest fast food franchise the world has ever seen. Ray Kroc on every single McDonald’s restaurant operating the exact same. He wanted to make sure that the burgers, fries, and drinks that were served in Alaska would taste the same as those served in Texas. In 1961, Kroc opened a training program called Hamburger University in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. Here, employees would learn the skills required to maintain a proper McDonald’s restaurant. Today, more than 275,000 people have graduated from this program.


After Ray Kroc bought the company from Maurice and Richard McDonald in 1961, the company blew up. Kroc expanded the company all over the world, ensuring that everyone would recognize the famous golden arches. Over the years, McDonald’s has also expanded their menu. They added chicken nuggets, the Big Mac, the Quarter Pounder, Happy Meals, and more. Today, McDonald’s is one of America’s favorite places to grab a quick bite to eat if they are in a rush. Their speedy service and delicious food always ensures that their customers leave satisfied with their visit.