About McDonald’s company today
Since its incorporation in 1955, McDonald's Corporation has not only become the world's largest quick-service restaurant organization, but has literally changed Americans' eating habits--and increasingly the habits of non-Americans as well. On an average day, more than 46 million people eat at one of the company's more than 31,000 restaurants, which are located in 119 countries on six continents. About 9,000 of the restaurants are company owned and operated; the remainders are run either by franchisees or through joint ventures with local businesspeople. System wide sales (which encompass total revenues from all three types of restaurants) totaled more than $46 billion in 2003. Nine major markets--Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States--account for 80 percent of the restaurants and 75 percent of overall sales. The vast majority of the company's restaurants are of the flagship McDonald's hamburger joint variety. Two other wholly owned chains, Boston Market (rotisserie chicken) and Chipotle Mexican Grill (Mexican fast casual), along with Pret A Manger (upscale prepared sandwiches), in which McDonald's owns a 33 percent stake, account for about 1,000 of the units. Early history
In 1954 Ray Kroc, a seller of Multimixer milkshake machines, learned that brothers Richard and Maurice (Dick and Mac) McDonald were using eight of his high-tech Multimixers in their San Bernardino, California, restaurant. His curiosity was piqued, and he went to San Bernardino to take a look at the McDonalds' restaurant. The McDonalds had been in the restaurant business since the 1930s. In 1948 they closed down a successful carhop drive-in to establish the streamlined operation Ray Kroc saw in 1954. The menu was simple: hamburgers, cheeseburgers, french fries, shakes, soft drinks, and apple pie. The carhops were eliminated to make McDonald's a self-serve operation, and there were no tables to sit at, no jukebox, and no telephone. As a result, McDonald's attracted families rather than teenagers. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the restaurant was the efficiency with which the McDonald's workers did their jobs. Mac and Dick McDonald had taken great care in setting up their kitchen. Each worker's steps had been carefully choreographed, like an assembly line, to ensure maximum efficiency. The savings in preparation time, and the resulting increase in volume, allowed the McDonalds to lower the price of a hamburger from 30 cents to 15 cents. That impressively low price is what McDonald’s was famous and popular for in the first place those days.
Believing that the McDonald formula was a ticket to success, Kroc suggested that they franchise their restaurants throughout the country. When they hesitated to take on this additional burden, Kroc volunteered to do it for them. He returned to his home outside of Chicago with rights to set up McDonald's restaurants throughout the country, except in a handful of territories in California and Arizona already licensed by the McDonald brothers.
Kroc's first McDonald's restaurant opened in Des Plaines, Illinois, near Chicago, on April 15, 1955 - the same year that Kroc incorporated his company as McDonald's Corporation. As with any new venture, Kroc encountered a number of hurdles. The first was adapting the McDonald's building design to a northern climate. Most frustrating of all, however, was Kroc's initial failure to reproduce the McDonalds' delicious french fries. When Kroc and his crew duplicated the brothers' method - leaving just a little peel for flavor, cutting the potatoes into shoestrings, and rinsing the strips in cold water - the fries turned into mush. After repeated telephone conversations with the McDonald brothers and several consultations with the Potato and Onion Association, Kroc pinpointed the cause of the soggy spuds. The McDonald brothers stored their potatoes outside in...