As explained on McDonald’s website “Dick and Mac McDonald moved to California to seek opportunities they felt unavailable in New England.” In 1948 they launched Speedee Service System featuring 15 cent hamburgers. As the restaurants gained traction that led the brothers to begin franchising their concept until they reached nine operating restaurants. The Speedee System was the foundation of the success of the first McDonald’s in San Bernardino, California.
A native Chicagoan, Ray Kroc, in 1939 was the exclusive distributor of a milkshake mixing machine, called Multimixer. In short, he was a salesman.
He visited the McDonald brothers in 1954 and was impressed to their business model which led to him becoming their franchise agent. He opened up the first restaurant for McDonald’s System, Inc., until in 1961 he acquired McDonald’s rights to the brother’s company for $2.7 million.
The McDonald brothers speedee system enabled the first store to operate at very high speed and efficiency, and yet still serve a great burger. In fact, while the initial take from the McDonald brothers was that you could make great burgers in little time, and make them very inexpensive, those could still be done with great ingredients and maintain a high quality.
In fact, McDonald’s would be able to serve them at low price thanks to the fact it bore less operational costs, since there were no servers, it was mostly a self-service experience and the menu was very limited.
While the concept of Fast Food developed already in the early 1900s, that really took off later on, as the McDonald brothers opened their first restaurant.
However, as Ray Kroc took over McDonald’s the concept also changed in meaning. Indeed, as the restaurants scaled their operations the focus was more and more on speed, thus bringing to the quality of food down, and associating fast food with a lesser food experience.
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