Getting my kicks on Route 66 @ the site of the “World’s First McDonald’s” which includes an unsanctioned Mickey D’s, Juan Pollo Chicken & Route 66 Museum plus I fulfill my childhood dream of exploring the WigWam Motel.
The founder of the Juan Pollo restaurant chain bought this property, which just happens to be the site of the world’s first McDonald’s, in a foreclosure sale and turned it into a McDonald’s/Juan Pollo/Route 66 museum.
The younger shadow of myself soaks in all the memories of my childhood of when we would drive the ghost of Route 66 back east every summer to visit family.
An explosion of McDonald’s history greets you as you enter this ‘unsanctioned’ museum paradise.
McDonald’s started off as a tiny barbecue joint in San Bernardino, Calif in 1940. Operated by the two McDonald brothers, it was a failure. Eight years later, they reopened — Barbecue was out and burgers, fries and shakes were in. Once the brothers partnered with milkshake maven Ray Kroc in the 1950s, business boomed. Kroc later bought the brothers out and went on to grow the company.
San Bernardino is the home of many firsts, including the first U.S. appearance by The Rolling Stones, the birthplace of Foster Freeze, Taco Tia, Taco Bell, Del Taco and of course the home of the World’s First McDonald’s.
Behind these bars and a somewhat hoarder like walkway lies the bizarre and tiny Juan Pollo Chicken Museum.
Albert Okura has always been obsessed with McDonald’s — especially the story of how its executive Ray Kroc turned the golden arches into the world’s No. 1 corporate symbol. Kroc’s story inspired Okura to start his own fast food restaurant — a rotisserie chicken joint called Juan Pollo.
This exhibit really touched me.
Mr. Pollo says it’s time to get the f*ck out.
In 1986, Albert Okura came to San Bernardino to open his second location of Juan Pollo. That same year, he read a history of the McDonald’s corporation, and decided to check out the spot of the first McDonald’s, on 14th and E Streets. Six years later, Okura bought that property for $135,000, took the boards off the windows and opened an unofficial McDonald’s museum.
The museum does not have the blessing or financial support of McDonald’s Corp., which operates an officially sanctioned museum in Des Plaines, Ill., where McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc opened the first franchise in 1955. Okura built the museum as a tribute to Kroc, his longtime hero. Still, he has had a couple of clashes with McDonald’s Corp. over his use of the McDonald’s trademark. Those disputes have since been settled, and Okura and McDonald’s now maintain a frosty coexistence.
Inside, visitors can see — free of charge — more than 5,000 pieces of kitschy McDonald’s memorabilia, including Happy Meal toys, commemorative plates, dolls and 1950s milkshake machines and fryers. The walls are adorned with handwritten letters from a few of the first fry cooks and car hop girls at McDonald’s.
PBJ w/fries, oh my!
You Deserve A Break Today
I didn’t really like this phase of promotion but I do enjoy the signage.
I actually had this hat in 1984.
Ronnie & the Funny Fry Friends
So Grimace was a hermaphrodite?
I am not a hermaphrodite!!! Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Who didn’t have one of these growing up?
The empty bottle of water and a used cup of soda really made this display pop.
A feces paradise.
Don’t forget to get your McShots kids.
The friendlier less evil version of Grimace.
The guy in the middle of this picture, Jack, was the man who greeted me at the door. I also met Danny, who was painting a new mural on the side of the building. Both men were super nice and very informative and their love for the place is still present after all these years.
Okura operates all 27 Juan Pollo restaurants in Southern California but has yet to franchise the business, saying he is still laying the groundwork for his worldwide expansion.
Where the Route 66 & McDonald’s museum intersect.
Another McTree and some of Danny Castro’s mural work, which covers the exterior of the building.
In the mid-1970s, a music store was built on the site and was later purchased by the San Bernardino Civic Light Opera. In 1997, the opera went bankrupt. Okura bought the property after reading about the foreclosure in a local newspaper.
McDonald’s Corp. has also warned Okura not to refer to his collection of memorabilia as a “McDonald’s Museum.” Now he is careful to call it the “historic site of the original McDonald’s restaurant.”
…another feces paradise.
Less than 5 miles away from the birthplace of McDonald’s is the fabulous Wigwam Motel.
The Wigwam Motels, also known as the “Wigwam Villages”, is a motel chain in the United States built during the 1930s and 1940s. The rooms are built in the form of tipis, mistakenly referred to as wigwams.
Two of the three surviving motels are located on historic U.S. Route 66: in Holbrook, Arizona, and here, on the city boundary between Rialto and San Bernardino, CA. All three of the surviving motels are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Frank A. Redford developed the Village after adding tipi-shaped motel units around a museum-cum-shop he had built to house his collection of Native American artifacts. He applied for a patent on the ornamental design of the buildings on December 17, 1935, and was granted Design Patent 98,617 on February 18, 1936. The original drawing includes the swastika, at the time a symbol associated with native Americans or often worn as a good-luck charm.
The owner is quite funny, so if you go visit, drop in and say hello.
I’ll be back Wigwam Motel, I promise.