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McDonald’s Plans to Raze its Vintage Replica of Ray Kroc’s First Restaurant

The 62-year-old neon sign is also going

Illinois Battles With Widespread Flooding From Heavy Rains
McDonald’s will soon tear down this replica of Ray Kroc’s first restaurant. It was plagued by flooding, as shown back in 2013.
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

McDonald’s, as soon as nine days, plans to tear town its retro replica of Ray Kroc’s first restaurant. It’s a popular roadside photo stop featuring a vintage 62-year-old neon sign outside of Chicago in Northwest Suburban Des Plaines. The site hasn’t served burgers for 33 years as McDonald’s closed and tore down the original restaurant in 1984 — the year Kroc died — and built the replica a year later making it a museum. Even then, McDonald’s Store No. 1 Museum closed 10 years ago, plagued by constant flooding, leaving passers-by to peer through the windows and take photos.

A McDonald’s rep confirmed that they’re seeking demolition permit for the 32-year-old building, about a 40-minute drive from Chicago. The Des Plaines’s site served as The Golden Arches’s first walk-up restaurant. Kroc, the subject of The Founder — the Michael Keaton-led biopic released earlier this year — built the original restaurant in 1955 in Des Plaines. Though the Des Plaines’s restaurant isn’t McDonalds first — Richard and Maurice McDonald opened that in 1940 in San Bernardino, California — for many Chicagoans it did represent the chain’s debut, and it was often called “the original McDonald’s.” Kroc wasn’t the founder of the company, but his involvement helped push the brand toward worldwide popularity.

McDonald’s, which is readying to move its main headquarters to the West Loop, plans on donating the land to the city of Des Plaines after they raze the small building at 400 Lee Street. Perhaps the company will pay tribute to the site when it opens its new corporate offices off Randolph Street at the site of Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Studios. The building could come down sometime in December and a spokeswoman said anything of historic value will be removed and preserved prior to demolition.

McDonald's Store #1 Museum

400 Lee St, Des Plaines, IL 60016