When I started college at Texas A&M University in September 1973, I lived in Moore Hall, a dormitory just feet from a McDonald’s restaurant at Northgate. It became my go-to dining experience if I missed eating in Sbisa Hall, and for late evening, midnight, and after-midnight snacks.
When I moved off campus for my sophomore year, it was more of an effort to get to McDonald’s at Northgate, several miles away. Fortunately, there was another McDonald’s a half mile from me on Harvey Road. Since it was on the way to campus, it became my daily dining experience for the final three years of my undergraduate experience.
I lived in Houston from May 1977 to April 1983 and never did find a McDonald’s to call my own.
When I moved back to College Station in April 1983, McDonald’s on Harvey Road again became my go-to eatery…. for ten years!
When I arrived in San Diego on April 27, 1993, I immediately looked for a McDonald’s. Amazingly, there was one in Hillcrest right behind the Center for Social Services, which is where I “came out,” and where my life was centered for the next eleven months.
Recently, I discovered that the McDonald’s at 1414 University Avenue in Hillcrest was built in 1977 but is an original McDonald’s location from the 1960s. Here it is:
My discovery came about because two of the three original locations remaining in San Diego County were in the news.
One is at 1146 East Valley Parkway in Escondido, about 30 miles northeast of Hillcrest, and the building was recent demolished and rebuilt, now looking like this:
That restaurant was not yet open when I went by on June 6. It should be open now.
The third oldest location, at 137 Canyon Drive in Oceanside, about 30 miles due north of Hillcrest, is the one that was making the biggest headlines here. It looked like this on June 6:
Along with it being an original location dating from the 1960s, it also has one of the few remaining signs stating how many billions of burgers had been sold:
If you look at your local McDonald’s, it probably says something like “BILLIONS AND BILLIONS SOLD.” The sign at the Hillcrest location says “BILLIONS SOLD.”
McDonald’s pre-corporation history started when Richard and “Mac” McDonald opened a barbecue restaurant at 1398 North E Street in San Bernardino, California, on May 15, 1940. The San Bernardino location is now an unofficial McDonald’s museum owned by the Juan Pollo restaurant chain (not related to El Pollo Loco).
McDonald’s as a corporation was founded on April 15, 1955, when Ray Kroc opened the ninth McDonald’s restaurant after, according to one source, having purchased McDonald’s equity and assets from Richard and Maurice. The real story of Kroc’s purchase might never be known because there is a lot of disagreement about how it came about.
Ray Kroc’s aggressive business practices were the subject of the song “Boom, Like That,” released in 2004 by Mark Knopfler, formerly the guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter for Dire Straits.
Ray Kroc, who had joined McDonald’s as a franchise agent in 1955, lived much of his life, and died, right here in San Diego. He owned the San Diego Padres professional baseball team from 1974 until his death in 1984.
Just a mile down the road from me is The Salvation Army Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center, which has one of San Diego County’s year-round ice skating rinks. Regretfully, the Salvation Army is quite homophobic so I have not been by to visit the facility and, thus, have no pictures of it. And you won’t find a link from my blog to their web site; you’ll have to find it on your own if you’re interested.
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