East Edition Herald American Lead Story

Historic Downey McDonald’s to add drive-through window

DOWNEY — The future has caught up with the historic McDonald’s Restaurant, 10207 Lakewood Blvd.

It’s still a nostalgic facility, retaining much of the atmosphere of its 63-year past including a museum, but will soon have something not too familiar in the 1950s — a drive-through window.

The Planning Commission April 6 approved a conditional use permit for the drive-through from the McDonald’s Corporation, where officials said the drive-through is needed to compete with other fast-food eateries and increase business.

In a report to the commission, Principal Planner David Blumenthal said the site includes the 1,182-square-foot restaurant and an adjoining 922-square-foot museum plus a 576-square-foot outdoor eating area.

The drive through will go west off Florence around the back of the restaurant between it and a shopping area to the south.

Blumenthal noted that the building, constructed in 1953, was the third in the McDonald’s chain with the first two located in San Bernardino and Phoenix. But those two have been demolished, making the Downey building the oldest McDonald’s operating.

Besides the chain’s trademark golden arches, the Downey site posts “Speedee,” the winking chef, indicating fast service, on a 60-foot high sign. That was added in 1959.

Blumenthal noted that the structure sustained some damage in the 1994 Northridge earthquake.

A sustained effort by city officials and local residents convinced McDonald’s to make needed repairs and reopen it in 1996, with the addition of the museum, which includes pictures of the original Ronald McDonald.

Staff does not believe the drive through will alter the historic 1950s architectural style of the building, Blumenthal said.