I live in Downey, California. Although the city has very few noteworthy features, one interesting fact is that it houses the oldest operational McDonald’s restaurant in the world. I drive past it every day on my way to school, and have even eaten there on a few occasions, but never truly understood its history.
The location first opened for business in 1953, as the third McDonald’s franchise to be opened. The brand was still relatively small at the time, with the locations confined to California and Arizona. Since then, of course, the chain has become a world-wide phenomenon, with the golden arches becoming one of the most recognizable symbols in the entire world.
An interesting fact about this particular location is that it was actually independent from the McDonald’s corporation for much of its existence. Because it was franchised out by the original McDonald’s brothers, the sale of the company effectively severed its ties with the other locations. This caused some issues with its menu and sales, eventually leading to the location being purchased by the company in 1990.
Despite the many changes that the company has undergone, the Downey location has remained virtually the same over the past sixty years. In fact, much of the restaurant’s signage and architecture is still original, which has led to the location becoming something of a tourist attraction. In recent years, a small museum has been attached to the building, providing a place for visitors to learn more about the history of the restaurant.