McDonald's Drive-In, San Barnardino Cailfornia

The Most Important 60 Seconds in Your Entire Life:
You are looking at a picture of the new "McDonald's self service drive-in --the most revolutionary development in the restaurant industry in the past 50 years. No more glassware no more dishes no more silverware no carhops no waitresses no waiters no dishwashers no busboys.

American Restaurant Magazine September 1952 p. 27

McDonald's was created in 1948 by brothers Maurice "Mac" and Richard "Dick" McDonald who had moved to California in 1920 from New England. The pair opened their first eatery in 1937 and in 1940 moved it to San Bernardino. They followed the usual pattern of the drive-ins of the day by employing a legion of carhops who served an extensive menu of items from their octagonal stand. By the late 1940s changing economics spurred them to rethink their business model.

In October of 1948 the McDonald brothers closed their drive-in, fired their carhops, simplified the menu, reorganized the kitchen, and invented the "SPEEDEE SERVICE SYSTEM" emphasizing speed, lower prices and volume. Their reworked drive-in opened on December 12, 1948 and was radical for its day, for customers had to learn how to serve themselves! Once patrons caught on the new concept became a run-away success attracting the attention of the restaurant industry and fortune seekers. The McDonalds began franchising in 1953 and in 1954 were visited by Multimixer salesman Ray Kroc who became a licensee opening his first McDonald's on April 15, 1955. Kroc and what became the modern McDonald's Corporation bought out the McDonald brothers for $2.7 million in 1961 and the rest as they say is history.

Photos archived on the Internet Archive originally from

In 1948 the McDonald brothers radically simplified their drive-in and completely reordered food delivery by focusing on quick and efficient "Speedee" self-service. Thus they set into motion the notion of the Fast Food Nation and its spread across the globe.

Above & Below: The original octagonal drive-in was demolished in 1953 and replaced with the candy striped golden arches store seen below. The location was sold in 1968 by the McDonalds who had retained its ownership after selling out to Ray Kroc. The new owners ultimately demolished it in the 1970s and then later the Juan Pollo restaurant chain came to purchase the property and is believed to operate an unofficial McDonald's museum at the site: 1398 N E Street San Bernardino, CA 92405.


Video Clip:
Downey, California --10207 Lakewood Blvd
Opened August 18, 1953 Downey was the third McDonald's Drive-In Restaurant and the last of its type in operation. The McDonald brothers created Speedee to symbolize the quick and efficient service system that they had devised. Downey's Speedee is one of only a few remaining--his little legs, animated in neon, still run as fast as they can to serve McDonald's next customer! The Speedee sign erected in 1959 at Downey with its single giant arch is a one-of-a-kind and hearkens back to the days of the postwar era when the roadside was filled with larger that life advertisements of all shapes and colors vying for motorists' attention--"Hey pull in over here, This is Your Kind of Place!"
Photos & Clip Oct. 3 & 5, 2004: Kummerlowe Archive
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