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Meet the McDonald Brothers: The Founders of the Fast Food Revolution

Richard and Maurice McDonald founded the fast-food company that has now spread throughout the world. Despite the fact that they have made a substantial contribution to the sector, Ray Kroc, their franchise agent, frequently takes center stage. However, it’s critical to acknowledge the brothers’ contribution to the development of the McDonald’s brand and their cutting-edge method of food delivery.

The McDonald's logo has branches around the world

In San Bernardino, California, Richard and Maurice McDonald launched their first eatery in 1940.

The first restaurant was a drive-in that served a variety of food. But in 1948, a newly envisioned McDonald’s opened with a small menu that concentrated on just a few items, like burgers, fries, and drinks.

As a result, the brothers were able to streamline their business and concentrate on providing high-quality, prompt service, which later became the cornerstone of the McDonald’s brand.

Despite their success, the brothers eventually sold the business to Ray Kroc, who went on to establish the McDonald’s franchise as a massive international conglomerate.

However, it would be remiss to ignore the McDonald brothers’ pioneering approach to food service and early success.

It is essential to comprehend the development of the fast-food industry and the influence it has had on contemporary culture in order to comprehend the history of the McDonald’s brand and the contributions of its founders.

Early Life and Business Ventures

Childhood and Family

Maurice McDonald was born in 1902, and Richard McDonald was born in February of 1909.

McDonald's hamburgers

They were raised in an eight-child family in New Hampshire.

Their mother, Margarett McDonald, was of Scottish ancestry, while their father, Patrick McDonald, was an Irish immigrant.

Despite their parents’ efforts, the family’s finances were difficult.

Early Business Ventures

Richard and Maurice McDonald emigrated to California in the 1920s in search of financial success.

McDonald's logo has branches around the world

They attempted a number of businesses, such as a drive-in restaurant and a movie theater, but nothing seemed to be successful.

In San Bernardino, where they eventually made their home, they started a hot dog stand in 1940.

Although the hot dog stand was a success, the brothers wanted to grow their company.

They made the decision to condense their menu and concentrate on a few dishes that they could cook fast and effectively.

They named their new eatery “McDonald’s Bar-B-Q” and set up a production line system so they could serve customers rapidly.

The eatery was well-liked, and the brothers quickly understood that they had found a successful recipe.

They made the decision to franchise their company and added several other locations around California.

They quickly learned, though, that running a franchise system was trickier than they had thought, so they started looking for a new franchising agent.

A milkshake machine salesman named Ray Kroc visited the McDonald brothers’ restaurant in 1954 and was intrigued by their management style.

He persuaded them to accept him as their agent for franchising, and he soon started opening McDonald’s outlets around the nation. As they say, the rest is history.

Founding of McDonald’s

Richard and Maurice McDonald, two American businessmen, started the fast food chain McDonald’s.

legendary deliciousness of McDonald's hamburgers

When the brothers established their first restaurant in San Bernardino, California, in 1940, the company’s history officially began.

The First McDonald’s Restaurant

The establishment was first a drive-in that served a variety of food. The brothers, however, made the decision to rebuild the company in 1948.

McDonald's was founded in 1948

A three-month makeover resulted in the opening of a brand-new McDonald’s.

Only nine items were available on the restaurant’s limited menu, which included hamburgers, cheeseburgers, fries, milkshakes, and soft drinks.

The brothers’ firm became more lucrative thanks to the simplified menu’s contribution to increased productivity and cost savings.

Innovations in Fast Food

The fast food industry was completely transformed by the McDonald brothers’ inventions.

Double McDonald's Hamburger Combo Set

They unveiled the “Speedee Service System,” which put an emphasis on efficiency and quickness.

In this system, food was prepared quickly and precisely using assembly-line techniques. The brothers also created their own tools, such as the “Multimixer,” which could produce many milkshakes simultaneously.

The brothers’ firm started franchising in 1953 after the McDonald’s restaurant became an instant hit.

Ray Kroc, who later acquired the business from the brothers and transformed it into the global fast food juggernaut it is today, was one of their first franchisees.

The McDonald brothers, who introduced innovations that would alter how food was made and served, were forerunners in the fast food industry.

The countless McDonald’s locations around the world carry on their legacy.

The Split and Legacy

The McDonald brothers expanded their restaurant empire in California after the opening of their first outlet.

Top View of McDonald's French fries XXL Size

They quickly realized, nevertheless, that they could not continue to exert the same level of quality control and oversight over each restaurant’s operations.

They sold the business to Ray Kroc in 1961 after persuading him to become a franchisee of their company. Kroc was a failing milkshake machine salesman.

The Ray Kroc Era

McDonald’s expanded internationally under Kroc’s direction.

McDonald's food

He increased the number of franchises to thousands across the globe and added new menu items like the Big Mac and Egg McMuffin.

Additionally, Kroc put into place a new system for employee training and upholding uniformity across all locations.

Although Kroc is frequently credited with starting McDonald’s, the McDonald brothers actually invented fast food and completely changed the restaurant business.

Despite this, the brothers didn’t get much credit for what they did to make the business successful.

Maurice McDonald died in 1971, while Richard McDonald died in 1998.

Numerous people in the fast food industry and beyond have been motivated by their legacy of creativity and entrepreneurship.

McDonald’s is one of the biggest and most well-known brands in the world right now, with more than 38,000 outlets across more than 100 nations.

Frequently Asked Questions

Chicken Nuggets at McDonalds

Who were the McDonald brothers?

Richard (February 1909 – July 14, 1998) and Maurice McDonald (1902 – December 11, 1971) were American entrepreneurs who founded the fast-food company McDonald’s. They opened the original McDonald’s restaurant in 1940 in San Bernardino, California, where they created the Speedee Service System to produce their meals, a method that became the basis for the modern fast-food restaurant.

What was the Speedee Service System?

The Speedee Service System was a method of food preparation and service that the McDonald brothers developed in the 1940s. It involved dividing the preparation of food into separate tasks, with each worker responsible for a specific task. This system allowed the McDonald brothers to produce high-quality food quickly and efficiently, which was a revolutionary concept at the time.

What was the role of Ray Kroc in the McDonald’s story?

Ray Kroc was a milkshake machine salesman who saw the potential in the McDonald’s concept and convinced the brothers to franchise their business. Kroc became the driving force behind the expansion of McDonald’s, eventually buying out the McDonald brothers in 1961. While Kroc is often credited with creating McDonald’s, it was the McDonald brothers who developed the Speedee Service System and laid the foundation for the company’s success.

What was the relationship between the McDonald brothers and Ray Kroc?

Initially, the McDonald brothers had a good working relationship with Kroc, and they saw him as a partner who could help them expand their business. However, as Kroc became more involved in the business, he began to clash with the brothers over the direction of the company. Eventually, Kroc bought out the McDonald brothers and took full control of the company, which led to a bitter legal battle between the parties.

Ice cream cone from McDonald's restaurant.


To sum up, Richard and Maurice McDonald were the men who started the first McDonald’s eatery.

By presenting a small menu of high-quality food and prompt service, they transformed the fast-food sector.

Ray Kroc, who eventually bought out the brothers and expanded McDonald’s into a global franchise, was drawn to their creative ideas and business approach.

The McDonald brothers’ net worth is insignificant in comparison to the present market value of the McDonald’s firm, despite their substantial contributions to the fast food sector.

They retired to their hometown, where they had simple lives until they passed away.

The McDonald brothers’ tale serves as a reminder that success is not always determined by monetary gain.

The McDonald’s brand, which continues to provide food to millions of people around the world, carries on their heritage.

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry. As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.