Richard and Maurice McDonald

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Richard McDonald
Born Richard James McDonald
(1909-02-16)February 16, 1909
Manchester, New Hampshire, U.S.
Died July 14, 1998(1998-07-14) (aged 89)
Bedford, New Hampshire, U.S.
Resting place Mount Calvary Cemetery
Manchester, New Hampshire, U.S.
Nationality American
Other names Dick McDonald
Occupation Entrepreneur
Known for Original founder of McDonald's
Spouse(s) Dorothy McDonald
(m. ?–1998) (his death)
Maurice McDonald
Born Maurice James McDonald
(1902-11-26)November 26, 1902
Manchester, New Hampshire, U.S.
Died December 11, 1971(1971-12-11) (aged 69)
Riverside, California, U.S.
Cause of death Heart failure
Resting place Desert Memorial Park
Cathedral City, California, U.S.
Nationality American
Other names Mac McDonald
Occupation Entrepreneur
Known for Co-founder of McDonald's
Spouse(s) Dorothy Carter (m. ?–1971) (his death)

Brothers Richard James "Dick" McDonald (February 16, 1909 – July 14, 1998) and Maurice James "Mac" McDonald (November 26, 1902 – December 11, 1971) were American restaurateurs and entrepreneurs who developed and opened the first McDonald's restaurant in 1940. Their innovative concept and execution of a fast food stand has been highly influential in American cuisine, serving as the foundation for a global enterprise.

Early life[edit]

The McDonald brothers were born in Manchester, New Hampshire. Their parents were immigrants from Ireland.[1] Their father worked as a shift manager in a New Hampshire shoe factory. In 1930, with the onset of the Great Depression, the elder McDonald was laid off after 42 years at the factory, and his sons decided to move to California to find work. The McDonald brothers worked odd jobs in the movie industry, including as stagehands at film studios and later operating their own movie theater, which quickly folded.

Business career[edit]

In 1937, the McDonald brothers opened a hot dog stand in Arcadia, California, inspired by a local hot dog stand that seemed to be the only profitable business in town, and which primarily served patrons at a local racetrack. However, the stand had few customers after racing season ended.

Maurice decided to open a bigger hot dog stand in nearby San Bernardino, a large working-class town with a population of approximately 100,000 people. After several banks declined to lend them the money needed for this venture, Bank of America finally approved, and in 1940, with $5,000 in capital, they opened a drive-in restaurant.

The new restaurant proved a surprise success and the brothers were soon making $40,000 a year. Most customers were either teenage boys and young males in their 20s who came there primarily to flirt with the carhop girls, or young working families looking for a cheap meal. The McDonald brothers decided that the latter were the ideal customer they wanted to attract.

After a couple years in business, the brothers began making plans to renovate their business model based on the lessons they had learned. One of these involved finding a more efficient way to service customers than the carhop girls, who were very slow, unreliable workers liable to flirt with customers. Another was that hamburgers accounted for a quite overwhelming amount of total sales, and that they were much cleaner and easier to assemble than barbecues and sandwiches.

In 1948, the brothers designed a purpose-built restaurant in San Bernardino, focused on hamburgers and french fries, on the corner of 1398 North E Street and West 14th Street (34°07′32″N 117°17′41″W / 34.1255°N 117.2946°W / 34.1255; -117.2946).[2] While this "McDonald's" was still premised on most customers arriving by car, its design was unique due to a combination of factors:

  • Like the brothers' previous food stands, the design deliberately omitted an interior dining area.
  • There was no waiting staff; orders were taken in person at the front counter, where the food was also delivered.
  • The brothers designed the kitchen area themselves, integrating their acquired knowledge into an assembly line-style layout that maximized efficiency and output.

The new restaurant was a success, and with the goal of making $1 million before they turned 50,[3] the McDonald brothers began franchising their system in 1953, beginning with a restaurant in Phoenix, Arizona operated by Neil Fox.[2] At first they only franchised the system, rather than the name of their restaurant. Later, the brothers started franchising the entire concept, with restaurants built to a standard design, created by Fontana, California architect Stanley Clark Meston, and featuring Richard's suggestion of the paired Golden Arches, which formed an "M" when viewed from an angle.

In 1954, the McDonald brothers partnered with Ray Kroc. The franchiser took 1.9 percent of the gross sales, of which the McDonald brothers got 0.5 percent.[4] The brothers wished to maintain only a small number of restaurants, which conflicted with Kroc's goals.

On November 30, 1984, Richard McDonald – the first cook behind the grill of a McDonald's – was served the ceremonial 50,000,000,000th (50 billionth) McDonald's hamburger by Ed Rensi, then president of McDonald's USA, at the Grand Hyatt hotel in New York City.[5][6][7]


Maurice McDonald died from heart failure in Riverside, California, on December 11, 1971, at the age of 69. He was buried at the Desert Memorial Park, in Cathedral City, California.[8]

Richard McDonald died in Manchester, New Hampshire, on July 14, 1998, at the age of 89 and was buried at the Mount Calvary Cemetery in Manchester.[9][6][10] His wife Dorothy died soon after. They were survived by Dorothy's son, Gale French.[11]

In popular culture[edit]

In the 2016 film The Founder, Richard McDonald is played by Nick Offerman, and John Carroll Lynch portrays Maurice McDonald.


  1. ^ "Manchester New Hampshire Restaurant Innovators: Richard "Dick" and Maurice "Mac" McDonald". Cow Hampshire. 
  2. ^ a b "History of McDonald's". 
  3. ^ Gilpin, Kenneth (6 July 1998). "Richard McDonald, 89, Fast-Food Revolutionary". New York Times. Retrieved 5 June 2017. 
  4. ^ Business Stories of All Time: Ray Kroc; John Wiley & Sons; 1996.
  5. ^ Anderson, Susan Heller; David W. Dunlap (1984-11-21). "New York Day By Day; 50 Billion and Still Cooking". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-05-14. 
  6. ^ a b "Restaurant Innovator Richard McDonald Dies at 89: Pioneered McDonald's, World's Largest Restaurant System". Hotel Online. July 1998. Retrieved 2012-05-14. 
  7. ^ "La reina de la cocina (rápida) cumple 100 años". May 30, 2004 El Mundo (Spain).
  8. ^ Maurice James "Mac" McDonald at Find a Grave
  9. ^ Richard James McDonald at Find a Grave
  10. ^ Gilpin, Kenneth N. (1998-07-16). "Richard McDonald, 89, Fast-Food Revolutionary". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-05-14. 
  11. ^ "Fast food supremo dies" July 15, 1998. BBC News. Accessed January 6, 2007.

External links[edit]