Demolition of one of the county’s oldest original McDonald’s sites began on June 3. Located at 137 Canyon Drive, near Mission Avenue, the restaurant was one of three McDonald’s locations that served the San Diego area through most of the 1960s.
The other two San Diego County locations are in Escondido (1146 East Valley Parkway) and in Hillcrest (1414 University Avenue). Both are still in operation.
All three original locations have been remodeled over the years, adding drive-thru lanes and inside seating. However, the Oceanside remodel will eliminate one feature that fans of McDonald’s will miss — the posting on the “Golden Arches” exterior sign as to how many hamburgers have been served.
Long ago, McDonald’s locations stopped counting at “OVER 99 MILLION SERVED,” as posted on the Oceanside locations sign. McDonald’s — worldwide — reportedly sells about 50 million hamburgers per day.
Back in the day, the typical 1950s through mid 1960s San Diego family would stop at one of the three McDonald’s while traveling to some other destination. It was a big treat for the kids and dads in a culture where moms usually fixed meals at home or made picnic lunches when traveling.
The Oceanside location was visited when North County coastal families would go shopping at the large Value Fair store (a pre-Target-type “department” store) located across the street. Escondido’s McDonald’s would be a good stop when traveling home from Palomar Mountain, Julian, or Borrego Springs. The Hillcrest location was a must-stop when visiting San Diego’s only Sears store nearby.
There are now 111 McDonald's locations in San Diego County.
The onsite construction manager for the Oceanside location stated that the corporate plan is a 100-day complete remodel. It is expected to be reopened by the first week of August.
Historical footnotes: While McDonald’s enthusiasts generally credit Ray Kroc with the company’s founding, McDonald’s was actually started in 1948 by brothers Dick and “Mac” McDonald with their little hamburger stand at 1398 North E Street in San Bernardino. My mom and dad lived in San Berdoo at the time and remembered when the brothers first posted “Over 1,000 Hamburgers Served.”
By the time that location was torn down in 1971, the sign read “OVER 1 MILLION SERVED.” The site now hosts an unofficial McDonald’s museum and is owned by the Juan Pollo restaurant chain.
In 1955, Kroc, then a milkshake-mixer salesman, met the McDonald brothers and convinced them to franchise their “Speedee Service System” operation nationwide. The McDonald brothers had already franchised a few locations.
One such location, built in 1953, is at 10207 Lakewood Boulevard in Lakewood (near L.A., just off the I-5 at the Lakewood/Florence exit). It is noted as being the “oldest original McDonald’s.” The un-remodeled exterior of the store still has the Golden Arches going through the sides of building, maintains the neon-lit “Speedee” character (pre–Ronald McDonald) on its large sign, and has no interior seating or drive-thru.
The McDonald brothers sold out to Kroc in 1960 for $2.8 million.
Glen Bell, who founded Taco Bell in 1962, knew the McDonald brothers. Bell also started his Bell’s Drive-In hamburger stand in 1948 in San Bernardino. Bell sold it in 1952, started the Taco-Tia chain in the Inland Empire before starting Taco Bell in Downey. Bell is also credited with helping his “friends” start the Del Taco and Wienerschnitzel chains.