Photos from the Lexington Herald-Leader archives updated daily

Lexington’s first McDonald’s, 1961

Posted on March 5, 2018 | in Uncategorized | by

Sam Smargon, left, owner and manager, and Gene Witheril, company field consultant, turn out some hamburgers at Lexington’s first McDonald’s in December 1961. The drive-in fast-food hamburger restaurant, located at 771 East New Circle Road, near Eastland Drive, opened Dec. 12 that year. It was the 306th Golden Arches to open nationwide in 37 states. The restaurant featured a limited 10-item menu the company said enabled it to serve people fast and keep costs down. Featuring a hamburger for 15 cents, McDonald’s limited its offerings to three food items – hamburgers, cheeseburgers and 10-cent french fries. Seven drinks were offered: milk shakes, Coca-Cola, root beer, orangeade, milk, coffee and hot chocolate. Their assembly-line technique promised delivery of a full meal in 50 seconds. The company said the cost for an average meal was 45 cents, which is $3.72 today adjusted for inflation. The restaurant featured no carhops or waitresses, instead letting customers get their own orders from a self-service window. The company promoted this in its low prices and no need to tip. The walls were a 900-square-foot expanse of plate glass, making “exhibition cooking” a feature of the McDonald’s. Some of that glass can be seen in this image with the Goodwin Plymouth sign in the background. Want-ads in the Lexington Leader for jobs at this New Circle location asked “for qualified young men of above average intelligence” and “no drinkers”.  Click on the image for a closer look. Herald-Leader archive photo

Full-page advertisement in the Dec. 15, 1961 Lexington Herald for the city’s first McDonald’s restaurant. The ad also ran that afternoon in the Lexington Leader. Click on the image for a closer look.

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