McDonald's, Subway, Taco Bell — Where Were They Born?
April 27, 2012
The first White Castle location opened in 1921 in Wichita, Kan., making it the original American fast-food burger chain. Founder Bill Ingram used $700 to open the starting location and started serving up the chain’s signature sliders. The following year, the second White Castle opened in El Dorado, Kan., and by 1924, Ingram expanded the chain to Omaha, Neb. and Kansas City, Mo.
The predecessor of this burger mega-chain was originally founded in 1953 in Jacksonville, Fla., by relatives Keith J. Kramer and Matthew Burns. They decided to call their first location Insta-Burger King due to the broilers they purchased to cook the burgers, called Insta-Broilers. The following year, James McLamore and David Edgerton began opening Insta-Burger franchises in Miami — they replaced the Insta-Broilers with the flame broiler system that Burger King is famous for. Due to financial hardships, Kramer and Burns sold the company to McLamore and Edgerton in 1959; they subsequently renamed the chain Burger King.
In 1941, Carl Karcher and his wife Margaret bought a hot dog cart in Anaheim, Calif. Within the next five years, they expanded to four carts and opened Carl’s Drive-In Barbecue, their first standing restaurant. The Karchers then began to open Carl’s Jr. locations, which include a shortened version of the Drive-In menu and are smaller as well (hence the Jr.).
The Dwarf House (originally The Dwarf Grill) started out in 1946 in Hapeville, Ga., when "a young man named Truett Cathy and his brother Ben pooled their savings, sold their car, and took out a loan to come up with $10,000 to open the Dwarf Grill." It had 10 counter stools and four tables. By the mid-1960s Cathy had opened a handful of other Dwarf House locations and expanded to include a number of Chick-fil-A locations in malls across Georgia.
In 1930 during the Great Depression, Harlan Sanders opened his first restaurant in a gas station in Corbin, Ky., called Sander’s Court & Café. By 1952, The Colonel began franchising his fried chicken business.
In 1940, brothers Mac and Dick McDonald opened McDonald’s Bar-B-Que in San Bernardino, Calif.; eight years later they decided to revamp the restaurant’s concept to cater to their most profitable menu item, hamburgers — they renamed the restaurant McDonald’s. In 1954, Multimixer salesman Ray Kroc visited the restaurant and was blown away by the efficient system developed by the McDonald’s brothers; he started franchising the brand and bought the company one year later.
The first Starbucks opened in Seattle’s Pike Place Market in 1971; the name was inspired by Herman Melville’s classic novel Moby-Dick. From the beginning, Starbucks has imported coffee beans from various locations around the world. In 1976, the coffee shop moved down the street to a new location.
The idea for Subway was inspired by founder Fred DeLuca’s decision to open a sandwich shop to help pay for his medical school education. The idea to open the shop came from Dr. Peter Buck, who lent DeLuca $1,000 to open the original location of the sandwich shop in Bridgeport, Conn., in 1965 and became his business partner. The first shop was called Pete’s Super Submarines, and it was not until 1968 that the chain took on the name Subway.
Inspired by the McDonald’s brothers, Glen Bell opened a burger place with a similar model. However, once others started catching onto the idea, Bell decided to come up with a fresh menu concept. He began selling crunchy tacos with a combination of Mexican ingredients designed to please the American palate at his new restaurant, Taco Tia, in Downey, Calif. in 1954. Bell decided to expand the brand to include a variety of menu items and called the new concept Taco Bell.
Dave Thomas opened the first Wendy’s location on November 15, 1969, in Columbus, Ohio. The following year, Thomas opened a second location of the brand, this time adding a drive-thru pickup window. From the beginning, the chain served up its signature square burgers and milkshakes.