Friday, May 6, 2016

McDonald’s Mystery: Solved!

Courtesy of George’s flickr page
A week ago (here), I mentioned that local historian Dennis Thompson was attempting to compile a list of the consecutive numbers that were assigned to the early McDonald’s restaurants as they opened. He was particularly interested in the number associated with Lorain’s first McDonald’s, which was located down on West Erie Avenue just west of Leavitt Road.
A few days after my post, Dennis reached out to the McDonald’s corporate archivist and got “Speedee" results. As Dennis noted in an email to me, “At long last… the Lorain McDonald’s was #195. Not quite as early as I had thought when I started this quest several years ago, but a nice low number. They were franchising them so fast at that time, a couple of months made a big jump in the store number.”

Dennis pointed out one anomaly. The Fairview Park store has a lower number (#174) than the Lorain store, making it by his count the lowest numbered restaurant in Northeast Ohio. But, as Dennis notes, “Lorain actually opened a year earlier than #174, thanks to a lawsuit that delayed the Fairview Park store.”

During a trip to the Lorain Building Department, Dennis also found a few interesting tidbits about the particular property where the McDonald’s was located at 2500 West Erie. Apparently in early 1955 there was the intention to open a trailer sales business there, which was denied by the Board of Appeals. In December that same year, a gas station was proposed for the same location.

In December 1959, a restaurant building was approved to begin construction at that address, and Lorain’s first McDonald’s – #195 in the chain – opened in June 1960.

Dennis wasn’t kidding when he noted that a few months made a big difference in a store’s number. McDonald’s 500th store opened in Toledo, Ohio in early July 1963. Here’s the ad celebrating that milestone, courtesy of

All this blogging about McDonald’s gave me a hankering for a good old-fashioned McDonald’s hamburger – which I had for dinner tonight. I got it from the store on Henderson Drive, which (according to my receipt) is Store #24316.


Anonymous said...

Does anyone know what the prices were back then, my husband and I are having a disagreement. Thanks

Dan Brady said...

There’s a menu with 1960 prices right here:

Mike Kozlowski said...

...One of my favorite places in town growing up.


Dennis T said...

The prices were low, but a McDonald's made plenty of profit. One article about Ray Kroc back in 1958 stated that a location "cannot fail", since the average customer's bill was 66 cents! And it was Kroc's corporate policy not to hire women, since they could not handle the hectic pace. Yep, things have changed a lot.

Readde said...

Dan, The Filet-O-Fish was developed in Cicinnati for the Catholic west side. Nice blog.

Dan Brady said...

Thanks for your comment about the Filet-O-Fish Sandwich. It does have an interesting history. Here's the link to a pretty good article about it on the Smithsonian Magazine website: