Times were certainly different for the Golden Arches when its first restaurant opened in San Bernadino, May 15, 1940. For starters, the California eatery was called McDonald's Bar-B-Q and offered a simple menu of comfort foods such as barbecued beef, giant malts "made with real milk," and "aristocratic hamburgers." And customers were invited to watch as the restaurant's food was being cooked. There were even carhops to serve drive-in customers -- a model that has served Sonic (SONC) quite well through the years.
Things are quite different today. Now a person walking into a McDonald's is greeted by intimidating cooking machines and a giant list of menu choices for processed food.
McDonald's is a giant ship trying to reverse dreadful sales and a tarnished public image. Under new CEO Steve Easterbrook, McDonald's plans to improve food quality, reduce bureaucracy and re-franchise many restaurants in a bid to lure back customers and re-invigorate a stock that has shed 3.8% in the past two years, while the S&P 500 has risen 27%.
But for McDonald's to truly thrive again, execs at its Oakbrook, Ill. headquarters may want to channel several things from that original location in California. TheStreet takes a look at three things the first McDonald's could teach today's bloated 75-year-old self.