Visit the Oldest McDonald’s Restaurant in the World

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If you are visiting the Los Angeles area or live nearby, you are in luck. You can visit the oldest McDonald’s restaurant still standing and operating. It is located in Downey, CA, and was not the first McDonald’s built. It is actually the third restaurant constructed but now the oldest one still remaining and operating.


First, we have to dive a little bit into the history of McDonald’s. The McDonald brothers (Richard and Maurice McDonald) opened their first restaurant adjacent to the Monrovia Airport in 1937. It was originally a barbecue drive-in but the brothers realized quickly that most of their sales came from Hamburgers. After a three months closure, the restaurant reopened in December of 1948 as a walk-up hamburger stand that sold hamburgers, potato chips, and orange juice. The following year french fries and Coca-Cola were added to the menu. Thanks to the simplified menu and food preparation using an assembly line principle, allowed the brothers to sell hamburgers for 15 cents. This was about half as much as at regular sit-down restaurants. Can you imagine buying a hamburger for 15 cents? That’s unheard of in today’s times. Due to the success of the restaurant, the brothers started to franchise the concept in 1953. The McDonald’s brothers were surprised when some of the first franchisees used the name “McDonald’s” for the restaurants as they franchised only the assembly line food preparation principle.

The chain was bought by Ray Kroc in 1961 and later became McDonald’s Corporation. Because the restaurant in Downey was franchised under an agreement with the McDonald brothers rather than with Ray Kroc’s company it was not subject to the modernization requirements that McDonald’s Corporation placed on its franchisees. In 1990 it was the last remaining McDonald’s that was independent of the chain before it got bought by McDonald’s Corporation the same year.

In 1994 the restaurant was put on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s list for America’s Most Endangered Places. Both the public and preservationists demanded the restaurant be saved from demolition. McDonald’s spent two years restoring the restaurant and reopened it.

Today you can visit the restaurant and buy your favorite Mcdonald’s meals. It features now a dining room and a drive-through which were originally not part of the restaurant.


The oldest, still operating McDonald’s is located at the corner of Lakewood Blvd and E Florence Ave in Downey, California. It is located in a retail shopping area with plenty of parking around the restaurant and nearby.

It also features a drive-through. Just follow the signs which will tell you to use a small delivery road which wraps around the back of the restaurant and between the retail shopping area. The location is hard to miss with a gigantic “Golden Arch” right at the intersection of Lakewood Blvd and Florence Ave.

If you can’t get enough of burgers, visit the In-N-Out Museum and University in Baldwin Park. It is about a 20-minute drive from this McDonald’s.


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