Friday, February 2, 2018

[History Lesson] Georgia's First McDonald's Goes Dark in Doraville

Wednesday night marked the final night that Big Macs were  served at Georgia's oldest McDonald's.  Originally opened in November 1961, the McDonald's restaurant at 5220 Buford Highway in Doraville closed last night at 7PM, after 56 plus years in business. 
When the restaurant first opened, it was one of the original "Golden Arches" style walk-up locations with no interior ordering/seating area.  The Doraville location has reportedly gone through two complete rebuilds, one in the early 1970s and another in 2005, as well as several remodels in-between.  The restaurant sits across the street from Pinetree Plaza, between I-285 and Shallowford Road.  

Richard and Maurice McDonald opened the first McDonald's on May 15, 1940 in San Bernardino, California.   McDonald's Corporation was started April 15, 1955 by Ray Kroc in Des Plaines, Illinois.  Although the McDonald brothers created the business and the system that made McDonald's successful, it was Kroc who grew the business to the behemoth it became, largely by selling hundreds and thousands of franchises and also by owning the land on which the restaurants were built.  The drama that is the story of McDonald's was brought to the silver screen in the 2016 film "The Founder", which was filmed locally in Georgia.  

That said, McDonald's Corporation owns the land and building at 5220 Buford Highway.  

An employee reached at the Doraville restaurant earlier this week cited "lack of business" as the reason for the closure.  The employee also indicated that building was going to be demolished.  A representative of Morningstar Enterprise, LLC, the franchise group that owned the restaurant, called the closure "a business decision."  One reason for reduced business could be that a new McDonald's, also owned by Morningstar, opened in 2013, just over a mile north of the shuttered location.
In addition to the two Doraville locations, Morningstar operates McDonald's restaurants in Dunwoody near Perimeter Mall, in Brookhaven in an outparcel of Brookhaven Plaza and in Decatur and Atlanta, among others.

ToNeTo Atlanta reached out to Lulo Mattei, owner of Morningstar, in hopes of getting further clarification as to the reasoning for the closure and also to learn of any immediate plans for the property.  Mattei never answered the questions, instead indicating hours later that "Sumita Patel" would be the best person to answer our questions.  Despite not being provided any contact information, we eventually contacted Sumita (Dalmia) Patel, who according to her LinkedIn profile is  "Attorney | Regional Property Manager McDonald's Corporation."  Despite describing herself as a "social media guru," Dalmia indicated she did not know when or if she would be able to answer our questions in preparation for this story.

It's worth noting that we also reached out to McDonald's corporate via email and twitter, both to no avail. 

While we'd love to be able to say we got an image of the original McDonald's building from 1961 (something we requested and were hoping to share) or were told a reason for the closure, or were informed whether talk of a planned demolition was accurate, we were not.  Unfortunately, McDonald's representatives disappointed, much like their burgers.
The original Doraville McDonald's looked similar to this
According to a City of Doraville planning and development representative, McDonald's has not filed for any permits, demolition or otherwise, for the 5220 address. 

What is your fondest memory of this McDonald's from the 1960s?  Do you think McDonald's has lost its way? What would you like to see open in its place?  

Please share your thoughts below


Anonymous said...

Reuse the signage, but new name is 'Damn Colds', make it a pharmacy with drive thru.

Anonymous said...

I have fond memories of my mother and me eating lunch there on Saturdays when we were out shopping. I was probably between the ages of 5 and 9 years old. The decor was bright kelly green and white. I also remember going to McDonald's birthday parties before happy meals.

vespajet said...

I wonder if McDougal's is looking to expand?

Anonymous said...

"Despite describing herself as a "social media guru," Dalmia indicated she did not know when or if she would be able to answer our questions in preparation for this story. "

You are always so petty. I say this because we know mutual people and they say the same things about you. Stop thinking so highly of yourself and this little blog. The person you are putting down in the quote could've just said that it was none of your damn business and who the fuck are you?
Get real.

Anonymous said...

Interesting, I never knew that was Georgia's first McD's. I thought the original one on North Decatur Road just east of Clairmont was one of the earliest in GA.

The gall! How dare those people not provide your blog with timely information!

Anonymous said...

‘Lack of business” plagues all restaurants that employ a certain variety of rude, dirty, worrisome type realistic.

Atlantan99 said...

@Anon at 7:26PM,

Thanks for your readership and comments, I appreciate both. Please watch your language on my site or future comments will not be published.

Anonymous said...

@Anon at 7:26PM ... Go away!! Start your own blog then!

Eli - you be you!

Anonymous said...

I was thinking similar unprofessional. :(

Anonymous said...

Corporate shut down 2 locations in Smyrna the first of the year for the same reason. The same guy owned both franchises. They were dirty and very poorly managed. Glad to see them go.

KAT said...

I hate what McDonald's has become. It would be irony if Cook Out or Five Guys opened up there. The small burger chains are moving in on the turf that Mickey D has ceded. McDonald's may have a no-compete clause in the covenant or sale contract for the land.

Georgia Water Tanks said...

McDonalds will probably do well selling the land or leasing it to a restaurant. That area is very busy on weekends.

My early memories of McDonalds are of the one that used to sit where Tin Roof Cantina does now. I remember ordering 2 orders of fries before there was a large. There was. Coco’s around the corner, and a KFC about a mile up Briarcliff. Now the KFC is Mo’s Pizza.

Anonymous said...

Coco's was great memories, good concept, don't really know what happened to the restaurant group that owned Coco's. They became part of the massive W R Grace Company, which ultimately ran several good concepts into the ground. There was also a Coco's in Chamblee on PIB, closed, morphed into a used car lot.

fbenario said...

"... that was Georgia's first McD's. I thought the original one on North Decatur Road just east of Clairmont was one of the earliest in GA. "

These sentences don't contradict each other, and could easily both be true.

Anonymous said...

McDonald's usually has "no restaurant" clauses in the deed restrictions after they leave or sell. That site will not be a burger place in the next 20 years. See their former location at Lawrenceville Suwanee and I-85.

Brett said...

QuikTrip does the same thing as well (no gas/c-store)

I worked at this McD's in 1984. You could see the tile peeking out from under the brown brick around the doors in the back.

Kitster said...

Do you mean to tell me there were COCO'S here in the ATL at one time?

My first trip to California was back in 2003. I actually started in Seattle at a conference and then headed down I-5 stopping in cities along the way (for business) all the way down to San Diego.

Once we got to Sacramento, I started seeing Coco's. I fell in love with the place immediately. So, almost every city I'd stop at (SAC, Santa Clarita, Anaheim, Laguna Niguel, San Diego) I would dine at the Cocos. Every visit to California since, I try to hit Cocos.

It is probably a good thing they are not still here in Atlanta. I would be broke and 400lbs!

Anonymous said...

My Father-in-Law was the person that served the first McDonald's Hamburger in the Doraville location back when it opened. How disappointing that such a historic location has not been snapped up to be converted into a McDonald's Museum of sorts. It's McDonalds history. It is personal history as well. At a time in a person's life when he needed employment, my father-in-law poured his heart and soul into his job as Georgians typically do to feed his family. I too proudly have worked at McDonalds though I ma sorely disappointed at the McDonalds of today. But, Good help is hard to find these days and the help that is available today wants way too much money to work that job and corporate McDonald's management is to blame for understaffing the restaurants. It' still possible to get that family of meals served in under 1 minute from the time it's ordered to the time it's handed to the customer. I know it and any employee that was worth anything at McDonald's knows it, too. Ms. Patel and the McDonald's Corporation should hanging their heads in shame. McDonalds, Inc. may be an independent corporation but there are some serious controlling parties, such as, The Vanguard Group, Black Rock, State Street Corporation, Inter-con Security, Dignity Health, Friedman Fleischer & Lowe, MSP Capitol,, Conagra, Target, Jones Lang LaSalle, Ariel Investments, Abbott Labs, Swartz, Supply Source, and more that are the controlling fingers and toes on the hands and feet of McDonalds. It's not an independent corporation anymore. It ain't the McDonalds that Richard and Maurice built anymore. Buy Burger King.

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