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Little Butcher Shop, Cultural Crossover Dinner, Whiskey and Art: Weekday Planner: Big Troublesome In

Little Butcher Shop: Dining Chicago Weekday Planner: Weekday food and drink planner for Chicago: January 19-23. Big Troublesome in Little Butcher Shop Meat + beer = happiness with Off Color Brewing on January 22 for Big Troublesome in Little Butcher Shop. It’s a reception-style open house with five Off Color brews on hand along with small bites by chef […]

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Jan 25, 2015 06:38 AM
Citrus Bucket List

Citrus Bucket List: Get your citrus on this season at Chicago bars and restaurants.   In the midst of winter’s unholy death grip, one of the sole beacons of light is citrus. Seasonal produce this time of year is a far cry from the fruitful bounties of spring and summer, but hey we’ve still got […]

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Jan 23, 2015 04:57 AM
Weekend Planner: Sweet Sundays, Seasonal Slam, Central Coast

Weekend Planner: Sweet Sundays, Seasonal Slam   Weekend Planner January 23-25: No matter the time of year, there is always lots to do, eat, and drink in Chicago. Here are some of the hottest happenings this weekend. Sugar Hills Bakery is one spot taking the adage “you can have your cake and eat it too” […]

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Jan 21, 2015 10:08 PM
McDonald's First Store Museum
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McDonald's First Store Museum

You can't actually buy food at this replica of the first McDonald's. For that, there's a routine, modern version across the street. But the site is the genuine birthplace of the fast-food empire.

The original structure, built on this site in 1955, was torn down in 1984, but this re-creation, open limited hours from Memorial Day through Labor Day, was built according to the original blueprints, twin Golden Arches and all. Its "Speedee" sign is original, and the equipment displayed inside dates to days when fries were made fresh from potatoes peeled on the premises and Coca-Cola and root beer were hand-drawn from barrels. Among the items displayed is an original Multimixer, the milkshake machine that started McDonald's founder Ray Kroc on his business career.

In the basement, you'll find historic photos, memos, early advertising, memorabilia and a short video on the company's history.

Brothers Dick and Mac McDonald opened a hamburger stand in San Bernardino, Calif., in 1948. They attracted the attention of Kroc, a Multimixer salesman from Oak Park, lII., who was intrigued by the large number of the milkshake machines the brothers had bought. In 1954, Kroc became the exclusive national franchise agent for McDonald's, at first a scheme to sell more mixers.

On April 15, 1955, Kroc opened his first McDonald's on this site in Des Plaines. The chain officially dates its beginnings from this event, which turned McDonald's from a restaurant into a phenomenon. The first day's revenues totaled $366.12, but within a year, Kroc had built a dozen more stores in the Chicago area, California and Texas. By 1957, he had 40 restaurants, and the following year, the chain sold its 1 millionth hamburger.

In 1961, Kroc bought out the McDonald brothers for $2.7 million. He introduced a stylized "M," symbolizing the Golden Arches, as the company's logo and "Look for the Golden Arches" as the first advertising theme. That year, the company also opened Hamburger University for its personnel in the basement of the Elk Grove Village McDonald’s and conferred Bachelor of Hamburgerology degrees to the graduating class.

The company opened its 1,000th McDonald's in Des Plaines in 1968, and introduced the Big Mac. In 1971, by then an international concern, McDonald's established its headquarters in Oak Brook. The next year, it opened its 2,000th restaurant in Des Plaines, and a year later, its 2,500th in Hickory Hills.

McDonald's celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2005 with the opening of a flagship restaurant in River North with a supersized take on the iconic design of this first location.

—Leah A. Zeldes

Photos, from left: Ray Kroc's original McDonald's, 1955; replica museum; Kroc with Multimixer.

Contact Information

Address: 444 S. River Road (restaurant), Des Plaines, IL 60016

Neighborhood: Northwest Suburban

Region: Northwest Suburban

County: Cook

Phone: Show phone , 847-827-1220 (restaurant)

View website




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