Thursday, June 26, 2014

McDonald's on West Erie Opens – June 29, 1960

Vintage postcard promoting the McDonald's on West Erie Avenue in Lorain
This is rapidly becoming Reader Suggestion Week here on the Brady Blog...

Back in early June, I received an great email from Rick Kurish. He wrote, "Dan, how about the grand opening of McDonald's on West Erie Ave, on June 26, 1960? On summer evenings my parents would pack me and my three brothers into the 1957 Ford Station Wagon and drive to McDonald's for a late night snack. No "Happy Meals" then. You could get a hamburger for 15 cents, or a cheeseburger for 19 cents. The treat I liked was the fries for 10 cents."

Rick's memory is right on the money. You can see for yourself with the price list included on the back of the postcard (below). Also, note the West Erie Avenue address imprint.

It really is strange to think of a time when there were no McDonald's in the area. But on June 24, 1960, this small ad (below) appeared in the back of the Lorain Journal on the same page as the TV listings.

A few days later, the ad below appeared – and the dining scene in Lorain would never be the same.
When I was a kid, there was something exciting about seeing that original restaurant on West Erie with its unique Golden Arches and giant flickering sign featuring an animated Speedee. I would watch for it if we were going to Lakeview Park to check out the fountain on a summer night. 
We didn't eat at McDonald's very often; we went to Sandy's on Meister Road instead. But as Rick noted in his reminisce, back then fast food was a treat. For us, it was a rare treat, reserved for a night when my parents were going out to dinner without us kids.

The McDonald's on West Erie lasted until the mid-1990s or so. By then, of course, the original walk-up building was a dim memory, replaced by the newer style restaurant that robbed the chain of much of its identity.
The building was eventually modified and became Dianna's Deli Restaurant & Grill. Since then, there have been a variety of other restaurants there, including Yanni's Delicatessen & Restaurant beginning in the late 1990s, Stratos on the Lake, and most recently Route 6 Family Restaurant.
Today the building sits sadly vacant. The McDonald's portion of the building sits near the rear of the property, undisguised.
But it was 54 years ago this weekend that an exciting new era of modern fast food began for us locally.

(I still enjoy a simple McDonald's hamburger now and then for lunch. No fries, though, although they are still the best of all fast food french fries.)


Anonymous said...

I wonder which was first, W. Erie or on 254. Opening the one on Colorado it was the best thing that happened that year to the me! I was nearly an adult before I ventured beyond a FF and Chocolate milk shake combo. I remember Barnaby used to advertise the "All American" Hamberger, FF and drink and you received change back from your dollar. Rae

Dan Brady said...

Hi Rae,

I did check the Elyria phone book too, and in the 1962 book, the only one listed is the one at the Ridgeview Shopping Center. But that's a good question as to the order of the various McD's in Lorain County--maybe I can do a McFollow-up.

Burger King entered the Lorain County hamburger market pretty early too; I should look that up to find out when. Sandy's, Kelly's, Burger Chef and Casey's (all covered on this blog) were all a little later in the 60s.

Anonymous said...

I remember that there were circular florescent lights on the front of the building, that had a vacuum fan attached to the light unit. When the lights were on, all of the bugs flying around the light would get sucked up into a plastic bag. Bill

Anonymous said...

I used to work at the West Erie McD's. I remember we were one of the first ones to start a breakfast menu and get a drive thru. On hot summer days...the drive thru booth filled with car fumes...but the view of the females driving thru heading to Lakeview in their bikini's made it almost worth it!!

Jeff Rash

Anonymous said...

Too funny I was just thinking about this McDonald's location yesterday, I wondered if it was still there, so sad it's not. And here you post an entry today. Our family frequented this McDonald's also. I went with my Grandparents most of the time. Wow we all might have been there at the same time back in the day... I'm 55 this year and have lived in Florida now for 25 yrs. But, I have great childhood memories growing up in Lorain.

Mike Kozlowski said...

...Now, we went to the one on Colorado a lot more than the one on W Erie - it was right down the street from Amship, and if we decided to get fast food, we'd stop there after getting my Dad from work.

Dan Brady said...

I did go back and check as to when the various McDonald's locations opened in the Lorain area. West Erie Avenue was first in 1960, followed by the one at 1342 Colorado Avenue (which first appeared in the Nov. 1963 phonebook). The one across from Sheffield Center at 42753 N. Ridge Road joined them around '68 or '69. Surprisingly, all three locations are defunct.

Jim sofra said...

i remember the first Mac in lorain when they were 10cents and the sign was under a million sold!

i was born in 49 so this was late 50's

Unknown said...

I remember working there in the late eighties. The Northwest corner of the store, near the top of the basement stairs was a utility room, where the side door is. In that area behind a set of cupboard like doors was the original exterior back wall of the store, complete with, you guessed it, red and white tile.