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McDonald's History #1: Big 'M' LbNA #57911

Owner:Kelsung Contact
Plant date:May 23, 2011
Location: 1398 N E St
City:San Bernardino
County:San Bernardino
Found by: Angel Winks
Last found:Jun 7, 2018
Last edited:Jul 1, 2024
See also: <a href="">Speedee</a> and <a href="">Golden Arches</a>

Alive and well as of 6/9/24

Brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald operated a restaurant that was a favorite teen hang-out in post-WWII San Bernardino. When they realized that 80% of sales were burgers and fries, they took a gamble and closed down the restaurant, reopening months later on December 12th, 1948 as the very first "McDonald's Hamburgers" with 15 cent hamburgers and 10 cent fries.

They slowly expanded to seven more stores (<a href="">box #2</a> in this series is at the fourth store) before entrepreneur Ray Kroc asked for the rights to a franchise in Des Plaines, Illinois. It opened on April 15th, 1955 and although the ninth McDonald's, Ray dubbed it McDonald's #1.

He eventually convinced the brothers to sell him all the rights to the company for a whopping sum of 2.7 million dollars. But when he learned that the deal didn't include the original store in San Bernardino, he was furious. He forced them to change the name to "Big M Hamburgers" and opened up a McDonald's a block away, driving them out of business. He vowed to never publicly speak of the brothers again for the rest of his life.

A museum now operates on the site of the original store at the corner of E St and 14th St. It is open Mon - Fri, 8am - 5pm, Sat - Sun, 10am - 5pm. Just walk in the door and politely ask an employee for the letterbox. It's a brown pill bottle sitting on the first desk, through the door to the right.

The San Bernardino Historical Society Museum is also here, and next door is the Inland Empire Military Museum. They are all owned by Albert Okura, founder of the <I>Juan Pollo</I> chicken restaurants, and he personally gave me permission to leave the letterbox here. Incidentally, he also owns <a href="">Roy's</a> in Amboy.