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McDonald's new downtown site gets ready for party
It's going to be a race to complete the supersized McDonald's restaurant in downtown Chicago in time for the kickoff of the company's 50th anniversary party on Friday.
But Daniel Wohlfeil, McDonald's director of worldwide development, is promising the construction crews will be gone by the opening of the company's flagship restaurant that is replacing the Rock 'n' Roll McDonald's.
The Rock 'n' Roll McDonald's occupied the site for 20 years until it was torn down in 2004.
"This is all about celebrating 50 years of history," Wohlfeil said about the restaurant that appears to have been reared on steroids.
Unlike most McDonald's restaurants that have seating for 100 or less, the 24,000-square-foot flagship restaurant will seat up to 300 patrons in surroundings designed to make them feel as if they were in a home.
The first floor is called the kitchen, where fast turnover of seating is expected to be the norm.
Even the counter, which is concealed by a staircase when entering the restaurant, is supersized. It has 10 register stations rather than the typical four or five.
The second floor contains a "dining room, living room and family room," where patrons can relax and watch a bank of televisions, use the wireless hookup to access their e-mail or hold a business meeting in the "conference room," according to Wohlfeil.
Circling the south half of the restaurant's second floor will be a series of rooms displaying historical artifacts or commercials covering the five decades that McDonald's has been in business.
McDonald's officials are hoping they won't get a repeat of the cold and cloudy day that dawned on April 15, 1955, when Ray Kroc, the company's founder, opened his first 900-square-foot restaurant on Lee Street in Des Plaines.
There was no seating in the original restaurant and customers were required to stand outside to place their orders.
Hamburgers were 15 cents
Despite those limitations, the restaurant brought in $366.12 on Day One selling 15-cent hamburgers and 10-cent bags of french fries--menu staples that today run about $1.10 and 95 cents, respectively.
Within a week of opening, sales at Kroc's new restaurant had soared more than 800 percent to $2,940.17 a week. The rest is history.
McDonald's is now the world's largest restaurant chain, serving 47 million customers each day in more than 31,000 restaurants in 119 countries. Sales in 2004 totaled nearly $19.1 billion.
The $366 in sales that Kroc recorded his first day in business is less than what McDonald's anticipates its new downtown Chicago restaurant will sell in five minutes.
It will be hard to miss the new McDonald's, which has been rotated 180 degrees to face Ontario Street, rather than Ohio Street to better accommodate the tourists walking west along the Ontario tourist strip.
First 2-lane drive-through
Motorists will be able to gain easy access off Ohio through a two-lane drive-through, the first two-lane drive-through in McDonald's history.
Like the Rock 'n' Roll McDonald's that became a destination on Ontario, company officials are anticipating the new restaurant will become a tourist Mecca.
Trash receptacles placed throughout the restaurant have "thank you" engraved on them in 10 languages.
And like the Rock 'n' Roll McDonald's, the flagship store will be open 24 hours a day and have a parking lot for 65 cars.
Even though the Rock 'n' Roll restaurant is gone, the company has preserved some of the history from the store, including the 1959 Chevrolet Corvette named Peggy Sue, the Beatles paraphernalia and the guitars.
The company plans to house those items in a pavilion adjacent to the restaurant.
"We wanted to be sensitive to what was here," said Wohlfeil.
There also will be a number of technical innovations within the restaurant that won't be found at other McDonald's, such as a giant kitchen with separate preparation lines for white-meat meals and red-meat meals.
The separate preparation lines will allow the restaurant to more than double the capacity of the former Rock 'n' Roll McDonald's, Wohlfeil said.
On the second floor, patrons will find a McCafe, McDonald's developing answer to Starbucks, serving cappuccino, espresso, gelato and Italian pastries.
Despite criticism leveled at the design of the two-story restaurant, Wohlfeil says the plan reflects the mission that then-Chairman and CEO Jim Cantalupo gave him more than a year ago.
He said Cantalupo, who died last year of an apparent heart attack while attending a franchisee meeting in Orlando, directed that the restaurant be "representative of the original red and white, yet incorporate all the innovations through 50 years in a more modern, relevant way."
"He never got to see the plans, but he did see the concept sketch," Wohlfeil said.
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December 1948: Dick and Mac McDonald open the first McDonald's in San Bernardino, Calif.
1954: Ray Kroc, a salesman from Oak Park, visits the California restaurant and later becomes the brothers' franchising agent.
1955: Kroc opens his first McDonald's in Des Plaines.
1957: Becomes known for the motto "QSC," for quality, service and cleanliness.
A growing fast-food giant
1961: Kroc buys out the McDonald brothers for $2.7 million. Later that year, Hamburger University opens in Elk Grove Village, conferring Bachelor of Hamburgerology degrees.
1963: Ronald McDonald makes his debut.
1965: Offers stock to the public at $22.50 per share.
July 5, 1966: Listed on the New York Stock Exchange with the ticker symbol MCD.
1967: The first international McDonald's open in Canada and Puerto Rico.
1968: Big Mac is added to the menu.
1971: "You deserve a break today--so get up and get away to McDonald's" becomes the new advertising theme. The McDonald's home office is moved to Oak Brook.
Dec. 17, 1972: Becomes a billion-dollar organization.
1973: Quarter Pounder joins the menu.
1974: First Ronald McDonald House opens.
1975: Egg McMuffin added to the menu. The first drive-through is built in Sierra Vista, Ariz.
1976: Declares its first cash dividend. President and CEO Fred Turner is named chairman, succeeding Kroc.
1978: 25 billionth hamburger is served.
1979: Happy Meals added to the menu.
1983: Chicken McNuggets introduced.
1984: Ray Kroc dies.
October 1985: McDonald's Corp. becomes part of the Dow Jones industrial average.
March 1, 1987: Michael Quinlan becomes CEO. McDonald's grants Sears, Roebuck and Co. the rights to carry a children's line of clothes called "McKids
July 18, 1990: Announces that french fries will be cooked in cholesterol-free vegetable oil.
November 1996: Introduces two new salads.
1998: Jack M. Greenberg is named president and CEO of McDonald's Corp. Company announces the "Made for You" food preparation system.
2000: Acquires Boston Market.
2002: Company has its first quarterly loss on slowing sales.
2003: Sells Donato's pizza chain, launches the new "I'm lovin' it" marketing campaign to attract younger customers and adds a $1 menu.
April 2004: CEO Jim Cantalupo dies and Charlie Bell becomes CEO.
November 2004: Bell steps down to fight cancer. McDonald's ends supersizing, begins making restaurants wireless hotspots and adds adult Happy Meals.
2005: Bell dies and Jim Skinner becomes CEO.