Which franchise first opened in 1955?

by Nick

The franchise that first opened in 1955 is McDonald’s. It was founded by Ray Kroc, who acquired the rights to the original McDonald’s restaurant owned by Richard and Maurice McDonald in Des Plaines, Illinois. Ray Kroc’s vision and innovative business strategies transformed McDonald’s into one of the most iconic and globally recognized fast-food chains.

American Corporation: McDonald’s

McDonald’s Corporation (McDonald’s) is one of the world’s largest and most recognized fast-food chains, known for its hamburgers, french fries, and name-brand sandwiches such as the Big Mac, Quarter Pounder, and Egg McMuffin, as well as the child-focused Happy Meal.


Based in Chicago, it is one of the most successful brands in marketing history. From its modest beginnings in the 1940s as a drive-in restaurant, McDonald’s has undergone several transformative eras marked by pioneering innovations, milestones, and periods of controversy.


Overview & Brief History of McDonald’s

McDonald’s, renowned as a global fast food chain, operates as more than just a culinary entity—it functions as a significant player in the real estate sector. The company holds ownership or long-term leases on the land and buildings housing each franchised location. While franchisees cover expenses such as equipment, signage, seating, and decor, McDonald’s Corporation derives revenue from rent, royalties, and fees paid by these franchisees, alongside sales from company-operated restaurants. With over 150,000 company employees and a staggering 2,000,000 workers at franchised locations, McDonald’s stands as one of the largest private employers worldwide.


In 1974, McDonald’s established the inaugural Ronald McDonald House, offering accommodation to families with children undergoing cancer treatment in nearby hospitals. This initiative flourished, leading to the creation of more than 360 such houses globally by the early 21st century. Subsequently, Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) was founded in 1987. By 2022, the combined efforts of McDonald’s customers and franchisees saw donations exceeding $182 million to RMHC, facilitating 2.2 million overnight stays worldwide. Additionally, McDonald’s Corporation contributed $20 million to RMHC in 2022, as part of a larger $100 million commitment.


Furthermore, McDonald’s demonstrates a commitment to philanthropy through substantial donations to international relief efforts and local nonprofit organizations annually. The corporation also extends support through community grants, scholarships, and initiatives such as the Archways to Opportunity program, which awarded over $20 million in tuition assistance in 2022 alone.


In 1940, the McDonald brothers, Maurice (“Mac”) and Richard, opened the first McDonald’s drive-in in San Bernardino, California. By 1948, they revamped their business model to focus on producing large quantities of food at low prices. Introducing the Speedee Service System, they pioneered a self-service counter, simplifying operations and ensuring quick service with precooked burgers.

Ray Kroc, a milkshake machine distributor, saw potential in the McDonald brothers’ concept and became their franchise agent in 1954. In April 1955, Kroc founded McDonald’s Systems, Inc., in Des Plaines, Illinois, launching the first McDonald’s franchise east of the Mississippi River. By 1961, Kroc bought out the McDonald brothers, taking full control of the company.

Kroc implemented strict standards for McDonald’s operations and established Hamburger University in 1961 to train franchisees. The introduction of counter staff improved efficiency, while iconic elements like Ronald McDonald, the Big Mac, and the double-arch M logo shaped the brand’s identity. Drive-through windows were also introduced, facilitating convenience for customers.

McDonald’s expanded internationally, emphasizing affordability and a family-friendly atmosphere. The menu diversified with additions like the Filet-O-Fish, Quarter Pounder, and Chicken McNuggets. Acquisitions of Chipotle Mexican Grill, Donatos Pizza, and Boston Market broadened the company’s portfolio, although it later divested from these investments.

Criticism regarding obesity and health issues led McDonald’s to introduce healthier menu options and phase out supersized portions. Environmental concerns prompted initiatives to reduce emissions and adopt sustainable packaging. Despite controversies, McDonald’s continued to innovate, focusing on digitalization, delivery services, and restaurant expansion.

In summary, McDonald’s journey from its humble beginnings to global dominance reflects a legacy of innovation and adaptation. From pioneering fast-food concepts to navigating challenges and criticisms, McDonald’s has remained a formidable presence in the global food industry.


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