Contrary to legend, Roy Kroc did not make his McDonalds empire out of whole cloth. He was going around the country selling milkshake-making machines when a large order brought him to the McDonald brothers of California, who were running a series of fast-food establishments (at a time when fast food as a concept did not yet exist.) Kroc was so impressed with the operation that he offered the brothers a franchise opportunity: he would open up his own McDonald’s and split the profits. The brothers agreed and Kroc went home to Illinois to found the first of a franchise empire.
On this day, April 15, Roy Kroc opened up his first McDonalds restaurant on Des Plaines, Illinois. It did well from the outset – first day’s revenues, as recorded on a ledger preserved in the McDonald’s museum, now on site of the former restaurant, were $366.12
Standardization was a major factor in Kroc’s success: he insisted on a limited menu, with his own franchisees keeping the ingredients and assembly the same. He envisioned the suppliers for the restaurants as the third leg in a three-legged stool, along with McDonald’s Corporate and the franchisees. To that end, everything from the length and shape of the fries to the temperature at which the burgers were cooked were established by Kroc.