World’s Oldest Operating McDonald’s Gets Modern Update

The world’s oldest operating McDonald’s known for its historic 1950s architecture, including an animated neon "Speedee" mascot sign and iconic golden arches, will be getting a modern addition.

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Tucked into an unassuming strip mall in Downey sits the world’s oldest operating McDonald’s, which opened in 1953 and is still serving Southern Californians its original menu, consisting of cheeseburgers, fries and creamy milkshakes.
Now customers at the fast-food restaurant at 10207 Lakewood Boulevard can opt to order either at the walk-up counter or zip through in their car.
The Downey Planning Commission unanimously voted on Wednesday for the restaurant to build a drive-thru, which will be located in an alley directly behind the building. The decision made by the planning commission is final unless an appeal is filed to the city council within an appropriate time frame.
Courtesy of the Downey Planning Commission
There is currently no fixed timeline for the project, as additional contracts regarding access and right of ways for the buildings that are next door still have to be assessed, commission Chairman Matias Flores says. The plan will eliminate 15 current parking spots.
Flores says the new addition might allow the current franchisee to turn a profit on the business, which is operating at a loss or no profit and is in competition with a neighboring McDonald’s at the corner of Lakewood Boulevard and Gallatin Avenue. McDonald’s had indicated a lack of a drive-thru lane and kitchen that is up to company standards could be contributing to the location’s struggling sales. According to the corporation, 65 percent of sales are attributed to drive-thru sales at other locations.
The location closed for some time after it retained structural damage in the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, but re-opened with its outdoor seating and walk-up counter in place along with an adjoining museum. Flores says he is glad the history of the restaurant will not be affected. “We all grew up with the old McDonald’s. It’s good we are going to have [it], it’s part of Downey.”
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