The world’s oldest surviving McDonald’s still has a look and retro feel of the 1950s and appears exactly as it did in 1953, complete with vintage decor when the branch of the fast food chain first opened.
The restaurant in Downey, California was the third McDonald’s ever built and operated outside of the main franchise for decades.
Because it was run independently from main business, it has managed to retain its original design with the staff still wearing 1950s uniforms together with paper hats.
When it comes to the menu, the restaurant serves tasty burgers, cheeseburgers, fries and milkshakes based on the original recipe.
The location is also one of only a handful in the country that still offer a deep-fried apple pie as part of the menu.
The oldest surviving McDonald’s in the world still maintains its original 1950s appearance and retro vibe, just as it did when it first opened its doors in 1953
Situated in Downey, California, the branch was only the third McDonald’s ever established outside of the main franchise operating independently for decades
McDonald’s retired the fried pies in 1992 before replacing them with a less-fatty baked alternative.
But aside for a few locations in Hawaii, the Downey location is the only one on the mainland US where a deep fried crispy version is still available.
The difference between this branch and the 38,000 other locations is apparent before diners even walk inside with the building wrapped in a striking red stripe.
The restaurant has been located on Lakewood Boulevard in Downey, some 12 miles from Los Angeles, for the past 70 years.
McDonald’s had planned to demolish it and build a ‘retro’ one nearby but instead restored the current architecture following pressure from preservationists.
Before guests order from the retro-designed menu guests are greeted by McDonald’s original mascot – Speedee, a cartoon chef with a burger for a head – suspended 60ft in the air
The restaurant still serves a menu of delicious burgers, cheeseburgers, fries, and milkshakes based on the original recipe as well as deep fried apple pie
The oldest McDonalds sits in Downey on the corner of Lakewood Blvd and Florence Avenue that not only serves hamburgers, fries and Cokes but also plays host to a small museum
Before guests order from the retro-designed menu guests are greeted by McDonald’s original mascot – Speedee, a cartoon chef with a burger for a head – suspended 60ft in the air.
‘Speedee’ was based on a chef who embodied the fast service diners could expect and still features on the Downey restaurant’s drinks.
The mascot told customers that the mass-produced burgers would be produced and delivered quickly to customers with very little waiting time.
Such a concept propelled McDonald’s to the forefront of the fast food revolution.
The fast food chain later replaced the character in 1967 with Ronald McDonald – a clown who inhabits the ‘McDonaldland’ fantasy world.
But at this location Speedee still overlooks the building’s so-called ‘Googie’ architecture – a popular movement between the 1940s and mid-1960s that was inspired by the USA’s growing obsession with cars and space travel.
A vintage poster for McDonald’s French Fries
The location even serves up burgers and cheeseburgers using vintage wrapping
Shakes and sodas are served in retro packaging that would have been used in the 1950s
The location also plays host to small museum which celebrates McDonald’s history
The restaurant has a museum next door, with an original menu showing a 15 cent burger
Two ‘golden arches’ either side of the restaurant’s front service window are also a relic because they were only installed at the world’s first three McDonald’s.
The Downey location was only the second McDonald’s to feature the distinctive design.
At night, the arches – a symbol of the brand the world over – glow with distinctive neon lighting.
The Downey location was owned by Roger Williams and Burdette Landon, who had purchased the rights directly from the McDonald brothers.
It meant the location was not obliged to continue to upgrade their location like other McDonald’s franchises.
The location is also one of only a handful in the country that still offer a deep-fried apple pie as part of the menu
The museum also features a statue of mascot Ronald McDonald, who was introduced in 1963
The restaurant sign features a chef named ‘Speedee’ – inspired by the fast and efficient service
The eatery is the oldest operating McDonald’s. It was the third McDonald’s restaurant, and opened on August 18, 1953
Two ‘golden arches’ either side of the restaurant’s front service window are a relic because they are of a kind only installed at the world’s first three McDonald’s
Following an earthquake in 1994, bosses at McDonald’s look to close down the location permanently saying it would cost too much to modernize.
But the city refused to issue a demolition permit and the location was placed onto the National Register of Historic Places saving the site, ultimately reopening in 1996.
The location was originally a self-service drive-in with the only seating on offer located inside the museum located next door.
The museum displays memorabilia, a small-scale version of the restaurant complete with mannequins, and even old menus showing how the original burger cost only 15 cents.
The museum also displays original memorabilia, collectors’ cups and newspaper clippings
The museum displays mannequins of McDonald’s workers, alongside vintage memorabilia
The fast food joint featured in the 2016 film The Founder about long-time owner Ray Kroc
Michael Keaton starred in the film about the meteoric rise of the iconic fast food franchise
Brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald opened the first McDonald’s restaurant in San Bernardino, California in 1940, selling hamburgers for just ten cents each. That location is no longer around.
Eight years after it was set up, the company introduced a ‘Speedee Service System’, which helped kick-start the fast food craze by pre-cooking food ahead of a customer order.
To help sell the idea, McDonald’s created ‘Speedee’ – designed as a chef to reassure customers of the food’s quality.
The first restaurants were run as franchises, allowing each to operate independently while benefiting from being part of a bigger brand.
It wasn’t until 1955 that Czech-American businessman Ray Kroc opened the ninth McDonald’s restaurant in Des Plaines, Illinois
Customers line up outside the first McDonald’s hamburger stand which was opened in 1948 by brothers Dick and Maurice McDonald in San Bernadino, California
The first ever McDonald’s store was opened by the McDonald’s brothers, Dic and Mac, in San Bernadino, California in 1948
It wasn’t until 1955 that Czech-American businessman Ray Kroc opened the ninth McDonald’s restaurant in Des Plaines, Illinois.
The success of his business encouraged Kroc to partner with the McDonald brothers and relaunch the business as a global chain.
An aggressive expansion followed, with the McDonald brothers regularly arguing with Kroc over how the business should be run.
By 1961 the brothers finally grew tired of Kroc’s global ambitions for the company, selling their shares to him for $2.7million and retiring from the fast food business altogether.