Lonely Planet Writer

Take a photo of McDonald's first restaurant as it's scheduled to be demolished

A little piece of historic nostalgia has had its chips and is due to be demolished soon when a replica of the first franchised McDonald’s restaurant will be torn down. The McDonald’s Store No. 1 Museum in Des Plaines, Illinois, will be permanently closed, possibly as early as December, and the fast food giant plans to donate the land to the city.

The McDonald’s museum in Des Plaines, Illinois. Image: Tim Boyle/Newsmakers

Ray Kroc was the founder of the McDonald’s franchise, after he worked as a travelling salesman and became impressed by a restaurant in San Bernardino, California, opened by brothers, Richard and Maurice McDonald. He was convinced that the concept and design had the potential to expand across the country, and the franchise went on to become the largest and best-known food service retailer in the world. The museum is a replica of Kroc’s first restaurant, which was built in 1955. He died in 1984, and the museum opened the following year on the site of the ninth McDonald’s restaurant, which the company considers to be the birthplace of the modern version of the chain.

The McDonald’s museum in Des Plaines, Illinois. Image: Tim Boyle/Newsmakers

The museum has a mannequin crew and original memorabilia on display, as well as vintage cars in the car park, and it was very popular with visitors for many years. Problems arose when repeated flooding in the area led the museum to close off interior access in 2008, which greatly reduced the number of visitors to the site. Having now taken the decision to close it altogether, McDonald’s says that it will remove and preserve anything of historical value before the demolition work begins.

“We have decided to permanently close the replica of McDonald’s and hope to donate the land to the City of Des Plaines,” McDonald’s said in a statement, adding that the building’s location and the feasibility to reopen and maintain it led the company to this sad decision. “This property in Des Plaines will always have a special place in our company’s history.”