Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This


McDonald's Wants To Add A Drive-Through To Their Oldest Surviving Restaurant

The old school McDonald's sign in Downey (Photo by Marc Shur via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
Stories like these are only possible with your help!
Your donation today keeps LAist independent, ready to meet the needs of our city, and paywall free. Thank you for your partnership, we can't do this without you.

The oldest surviving McDonald's in Downey has served up burgers and fries over the past 60 years without a drive-through, but that could soon change if the company gets its way.As much as we may associate the fast food giant with car-centric convenience, this particular McDonald's has never had a drive-through. McDonald's is now asking the Downey Planning Commission if they can add a modern drive-through window to their historic location, reports Fox 11. The restaurant was the third franchise built, but is the oldest still standing—even the original in San Bernardino only has a sign remaining. Over the decades, not much has changed at the uniquely designed restaurant—which first opened in 1953 and then was torn down and rebuilt in 1957—but despite its vintage, Googie-style appeal, the company says the place is just not profitable enough without a drive-through. According to McDonald's, drive-through sales account for 65% of sales at most other locations, and they hope that one would help slumping sales in Downey.

Those that have visited the Downey location know that the lack of a drive-though is not the only feature that sets the location apart from other McDonald's. When Roger Williams and Bud Landon first opened the restaurant in 1953, they purchased the franchise rights directly from brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald, before the brand was bought by Ray Kroc in 1961, according to Eater LA. As a result, the location didn't have to abide by the uniform standards followed by other McDonald's, both on the menu and for the design.


Oldest surviving McDonald's, Downey (Photo by puck90 via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
The building features an angled Googie-style roof with large, single yellow arches on either side, and the sign out front is a tall single arch with a neon-lighted "hamburgers" across the top. Walking on top of the sign, you'll spot a quirky, round-faced chef known as Speedee. For years they also resisted adding newfangled menu items like the Big Mac, but eventually relented. However, you can still get a deep-fried apple pie there, instead of the wimpy baked one at other locations.

Support for LAist comes from

While no exact designs of the proposed drive-through have been unveiled, fans of the historic design might be understandably wary of any major changes to the outpost. Of course, as Curbed LA points out, an updated restaurant is probably a better option than losing it altogether. Plus, they don't seem to be suggesting self-serve kiosks there (yet).

The Downey Planning Commission is expected to consider McDonald's drive-through proposal today.