Richard and Maurice McDonald

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Richard McDonald
Born(1909-02-16)February 16, 1909[1]
Died(1998-07-14)July 14, 1998 (age 89)
Manchester, New Hampshire, U.S.
Resting placeMount Calvary Cemetery, Manchester, New Hampshire, U.S.
Known forCo-founder of McDonald's
Maurice McDonald
Manchester, New Hampshire, U.S.
Died(1971-12-11)December 11, 1971 (age 69)
Resting placeDesert Memorial Park, Cathedral City, California, U.S.
Known forCo-founder of McDonald's

Richard McDonald (February 1909 – July 14, 1998) and Maurice McDonald (1902 – December 11, 1971), together known as the McDonald Brothers, 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 standard for fast food. After hiring Ray Kroc as their franchise agent in 1954, they continued to run the company until they were bought out by Kroc in 1961.

Early life[edit]

The McDonald brothers were born in Manchester, New Hampshire, to Irish immigrants Patrick James and Margarete Anna Curran McDonald, who came to the United States as children.[3] Maurice was born in late 1902, and Richard was born in February 1909.[2] In the 1920s, the family moved to California, where Patrick opened a food stand in Monrovia in 1937.[4]


In 1948, the brothers fully redesigned and rebuilt their restaurant in San Bernardino to focus on a reduced menu consisting of nine items: In addition to their 15 cent hamburger, the menu would include a cheeseburger, soft drinks, milk, coffee, potato chips, and a slice of pie.[5]

The McDonald brothers' restaurant was a success, and with the goal of making $1 million before they turned 50,[6] the McDonald brothers began franchising their system in 1953, beginning with a restaurant in Phoenix, Arizona, operated by Neil Fox.[5]

The brothers drew the attention of Ray Kroc, a milkshake mixer salesman for Prince Castle.[7] After they purchased eight of his Multi-Mixers for their San Bernardino, California restaurant, Kroc visited that restaurant in 1954.[8] That year the McDonald brothers hired Kroc as their franchise agent. Kroc took 1.9 percent of the gross sales, of which the McDonald brothers got 0.5 percent.[9]

Kroc became frustrated with the McDonald brothers' desire to maintain a small number of restaurants. The brothers also consistently told Kroc he could not make changes to things such as the original blueprint. Kroc became increasingly frustrated, and deciding he wanted control of the company entirely, Kroc bought the company in 1961 for $2.7 million, calculated so as to ensure each brother received $1 million after taxes.[10]

At the closing, Kroc became annoyed that the brothers would not transfer to him the real estate and rights to the original San Bernardino location. The brothers had told Kroc they were giving the operation, property and all, to the founding employees. In his anger, Kroc later opened a new McDonald's restaurant near the original McDonald's, which had been renamed "The Big M" because the brothers had neglected to retain rights to the name. "The Big M" closed six years later.[11] It is alleged that as part of the buyout Kroc promised, based on a handshake agreement, to continue the annual 1% royalty of the original agreement, but there is no evidence of this beyond a claim by a nephew of the McDonald brothers. Neither of the brothers publicly expressed disappointment over the deal. Speaking to someone about the buyout, Richard McDonald reportedly said that he had no regrets.[12]

On November 30, 1984, Richard McDonald, the first cook behind the grill of a McDonald's, was served the ceremonial 50 billionth McDonald's hamburger by Ed Rensi, then-president of McDonald's USA, at the Grand Hyatt hotel in New York City.[13][14][15]

Death and legacy[edit]

Maurice McDonald died from heart failure[16] at his home in Palm Springs, California, on December 11, 1971, at the age of 69.[17]

Richard McDonald also died from heart failure in a nursing home in Manchester, New Hampshire, on July 14, 1998, at the age of 89.[18] He was buried at the Mount Calvary Cemetery in Manchester.[6][14][19]

In the 2016 film The Founder, a biopic about Ray Kroc and his business relationship with the McDonald brothers, Richard (Dick) McDonald is played by Nick Offerman,[20][21] and John Carroll Lynch portrays Maurice (Mac) McDonald.[21]

The first McDonald's, according to the California Route 66 Association, is owned by Albert Okura and is a museum.[22]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b Chatelain, Marcia (2020). "Chapter One: Fast Food Civil Rights". Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America. New York City: Liveright Publishing. p. 25. ISBN 978-1-63149-394-2.
  3. ^ "When Dad Lost His Job, the McDonald Brothers Started a Fast-Food Empire". 3 February 2017.
  4. ^ Muldoon, John P. (May 28, 2013). "From Immigration to Mega-Wealth". Archived from the original on September 18, 2013. Retrieved July 12, 2021.
  5. ^ a b "OurHistory". McDonald's. Retrieved April 26, 2021.
  6. ^ a b Gilpin, Kenneth N. (July 16, 1998). "Richard McDonald, 89, Fast-Food Revolutionary". The New York Times. Retrieved June 5, 2017.
  7. ^ Neil Snyder (June 15, 2010). Vision, Values, and Courage: Leadership for Quality Management. Simon and Schuster. p. 133. ISBN 978-1-4516-0252-4.
  8. ^ "Our History: Ray Kroc & The McDonald's Brothers". McDonald's. Retrieved 2021-09-12.
  9. ^ Gross, Daniel (October 1996). Forbes' Greatest Business Stories of All Time. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-471-14314-7
  10. ^ "Ray Kroc: Burger Baron". Entrepreneur. October 9, 2008. Retrieved May 29, 2019.
  11. ^ Kroc (1977). Grinding It Out. p. 123. ISBN 9780809282593.
  12. ^ Gilpin, Kenneth N. (July 16, 1998). "Richard McDonald, 89, Fast-Food Revolutionary". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 21, 2017.
  13. ^ Anderson Heller, Susan; Dunlap, David W. (November 21, 1984). "50 Billion and Still Cooking". The New York Times. p. B3. Retrieved May 28, 2021.
  14. ^ a b Velasco, Alejandra Yáñez (July 1998). "Restaurant Innovator Richard McDonald Dies at 89: Pioneered McDonald's, World's Largest Restaurant System". Hotel Online. Retrieved May 14, 2012.
  15. ^ "La reina de la cocina (rápida) cumple 100 años". El Mundo (in Spanish). May 30, 2004. Archived from the original on February 12, 2005. Retrieved May 28, 2021.
  16. ^ Stice, Joel (March 15, 2019). "The Tragic Real-Life Story Of The McDonald Brothers". Mashed. Archived from the original on May 30, 2020. Retrieved May 26, 2021.
  17. ^ "Maurice J. McDonald Dies at 69; Hamburger Chain's Co Founder". The New York Times. December 14, 1971. Archived from the original on August 12, 2017. Retrieved May 26, 2021.
  18. ^ Gilpin, Kenneth N. (July 16, 1998). "Richard McDonald, 89, Fast-Food Revolutionary". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 21, 2017.
  19. ^ "Fast food supremo dies" Archived 2022-01-31 at the Wayback Machine July 15, 1998. BBC News. Accessed January 6, 2007.
  20. ^ Eschner, Kat (February 16, 2017). "Nick Offerman's Character in 'The Founder' Is Based on This Real Historical Figure". Smithsonian Magazine. Archived from the original on February 17, 2017. Retrieved May 26, 2021.
  21. ^ a b Itzkoff, Dave (January 18, 2017). "'The Founder': Burgers, Fries and a Couple of Wiseguys". The New York Times. Archived from the original on January 18, 2017. Retrieved May 26, 2021.
  22. ^ "Original McDonald's Site & Museum". California Route 66 Association. Archived from the original on June 12, 2020. Retrieved June 12, 2020.

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