Brentwood had 1st corporate-owned McDonald’s, resident discovers

Brentwood resident, Barry Williams, had a hunch that Brentwood’s original McDonald’s, which opened in 1959, might have been one of the first of the chain nationally.

He wrote to the McDonald’s Corporation and eventually got his reply that the Brentwood McDonald’s (now the site of a Popeye’s Chicken) was the first corporate-owned store opened, and the third nationally.

Williams wrote the Brentwood Board of Aldermen and copied 40 South with the news, and suggested a historic marker for the spot.

He said he is waiting for an answer from McDonald’s Corporation about when the restaurant closed, and moved to Hanley Road.

The original 1959 Brentwood store closely resembled this one in Downey, California.

At an aldermanic meeting a while back I discussed Brentwood’s first McDonald’s restaurant at 8100 Manchester Road (site of today’s Popeye’s Chicken).  This austere store, which had only carry-out windows and no dining room, opened in 1959.  Years later the McDonald’s Corporation would abandon it and open a new Brentwood store at 1595 S. Hanley Road.

Over the past year I sought to learn more about our city’s original store.  Because it was opened just 4 years after Ray Kroc acquired the restaurant chain from brothers Maurice and Richard McDonald, I knew our store was one of Mr. Kroc’s earliest.  It was rather difficult to obtain information about our store, but I finally received a letter last week from the McDonald’s Corporation that confirmed my belief:

“In response to your inquiry, the location in Brentwood, Missouri, opened in 1959 and was the first corporate-owned McDonald’s but the third [McDonald’s] to be opened.  There was a franchise in operation in Des Plaines, Illinois, and another in Fresno, California, … at the time of [the Brentwood location’s] opening.”

If this information is correct then Brentwood has something to crow about:  Our city was the site of the third McDonald’s restaurant, and the first corporate-owned McDonald’s restaurant.  This might justify erecting a roadside historic marker at 8100 Manchester Road.  Based on my reading of the letter I just received, combined with what I learned about the McDonald’s Corporation in my research over the last year, I believe the Brentwood store would have been the third “Kroc” store – i.e., the third store to be opened by Mr. Kroc after he took control of the company in 1955.  I say this because I know that prior to Mr. Kroc, the McDonalds brothers had already opened more than 3 stores, all in southern California.

Currently McDonald’s boasts 44,030 stores worldwide, of which 37,855 are located in the United States of America.  In the U.S.A. 2,770 are corporate stores and 35,085 are franchise stores.

As Brentwood residents celebrate our city’s centennial today, we should also celebrate our city’s 60-year association with McDonald’s.  It’s fun to think that our city was one of the first in the world to have a McDonald’s restaurant.  But before erecting a historic marker, I would recommend a City official contact the McDonald’s Corporation to verify the information I was given.

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