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The Oldest McDonald's Restaurant Is Right Here in the Golden State

The Oldest McDonald's Restaurant Is Right Here in the Golden State

Did you know the Oldest McDonald's Restaurant still kicking is located in California? Let's dive into this historic location. Team


2 min read

September 20, 2023

In the heart of California, colloquially known as the "Golden State", lies a treasure trove of history that is not only emblematic of the rise of the fast food industry, but also serves as a testament to the enduring legacy of one of the world's most recognizable brands - McDonald's. While the golden arches can be found in almost every corner of the world today, there's one location that stands out from the rest. Located in Downey, this particular McDonald's holds the title of being the oldest active store in the chain.

Stepping into the Downey McDonald’s feels akin to embarking on a nostalgic journey. Opened in 1953, this franchise predates even the creation of the modern McDonald's Corporation. It was originally the third McDonald's ever built, and thanks to its enduring operations, it's now the oldest still in existence.

The store was the work of Richard and Maurice McDonald, the original founders of the brand, before Ray Kroc entered the scene and turned McDonald’s into the global empire it is today. The Downey location remains untouched by Kroc's influence. Unlike other modern counterparts, this McDonald’s retains its original "Speedee" logo - a chef character with a hamburger for a face, rather than the now-ubiquitous golden arches. Speedee signifies the fast service system that the McDonald brothers pioneered.

McDonald's has changed a lot in his long and storied history, but it has endured to become a global powerhouse.

In many ways, the Downey McDonald’s is a capsule that encapsulates a bygone era. The red and white tiled exterior, large golden arches stretching over the building, and an old-school neon sign make it a picturesque remnant of the 1950s. Architecturally, it's a far cry from the contemporary, standardized designs we see today, providing visitors with a unique, visually striking contrast.

Apart from its aesthetic charm, the location has withstood a multitude of challenges to retain its historical authenticity. In the 1980s, when the site was at risk of demolition, residents and history enthusiasts rallied together for its preservation. Their efforts culminated in the site being recognized with an official plaque in 1990, declaring its significance as a "State Point of Historical Interest". Further efforts to ensure its preservation included restoration after it was damaged by an earthquake in 1994.

The interior also boasts several memorabilia, from original menus showcasing burgers for 15 cents to vintage photographs that transport visitors to McDonald's early days. Furthermore, adjacent to the restaurant is a small museum, where enthusiasts can delve deeper into the brand's rich history and its profound impact on both Californian and global culture.

The next time you find yourself cruising through the sunny boulevards of the Golden State, consider making a pit stop at this iconic McDonald’s. As you bite into a classic Big Mac or enjoy a sip of a thickshake, you'll not only be indulging in fast food but also savoring a rich slice of American history. California is pretty neat, ain't it?

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