- The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes. Marcel Proust
Visit Unofficial McDonald's Museum
This unlicensed collection of fast food memorabilia sits on the site of the first ever McDonald's restaurant.
Dick and Mac McDonald opened their eponymous San Bernardino barbecue restaurant in 1940 complete with sandwiches, shakes, and carhops. As their business began to grow they realized that their best-selling item was the hamburger, and that their clientele did not care to stick around when they were finished eating. It was these two realizations that sparked the fast food model most of us are familiar with today. The business was eventually purchased by Ray Kroc who turned the McDonald’s restaurant chain into the corporate juggernaut it is today, and the McDonalds brothers’ original restaurant was completely forgotten. Almost.
The original restaurant building was demolished in 1971 and the site began to fade into history until businessman Albert Okura, owner of small fried chicken chain Juan Pollo, took an interest in the plot of land’s history. Okura purchased the site and built a new building on the spot which still contained most of the original restaurant’s sign. Okura filled the space with toys, signs, old play place equipment, fiberglass statues, and any other piece of McyD’s merch he could get ahold of, even assembling the world’s largest collection of pre-Kroc McDonald’s memorabilia. He then opened the doors as a museum.
Of course McDonald’s Corporation did not take kindly to Okura’s unauthorized appropriation, they miraculously allowed him to keep the site open so long as he does not refer to it as the “McDonald’s Museum.” The collection is a bit weathered and ratty, but the Unofficial McDonald’s Museum is a strangely effecting chronicle of the disposable culture McDonald’s not only promotes but apparently suffers from as well.