Even though hamburgers originated in Europe, in Hamburg, Germany, to be precise, the first McDonald's restaurant saw the light of day in the United States in 1937, with brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald as its driving force. Their meeting with Ray Kroc, founder of the brand and none other than their milk supplier, brought a breath of fresh air into their small business.
The McDonald brothers open a restaurant
The McDonald brothers open a restaurant in San Bernardino, California. Enthusiastic, fast, and friendly staff, quality products, and affordable prices are their restaurant's recipe for success.
Ray Kroc has an idea
He suggests to the McDonald brothers to expand their network using franchises. A few years and some commercial successes later, Ray Kroc acquires their business for the sum of 2.5 million dollars. It's a daring gamble, but a successful one: the businessman opens his first restaurant in Des Plaines, Illinois, and a mere four years later, he opens his hundredth restaurant.
McDonald's launches its three-letter philosophy. Q.S.C., which stands for Quality, Service, and Cleanliness. They become the golden rules for McDonald's.
Near Chicago, the Hamburger University is founded, where the restaurants' managers receive their training.
Ronald McDonald takes his first steps in Washington.
That same year, Cincinatti franchisee Lou Groen invents the Filet-O-Fish®, the first product to be added to the original McDonald's product range.
McDonald's Corporation continues its tremendous success
Ten years after it was taken over from the McDonald brothers, Ray Kroc's business makes another leap, debuting on the New York Stock Exchange.
First two restaurants outside the United States
McDonald's opens its first two restaurants outside the United States, in Canada and in Puerto Rico.
The legendary Big Mac®
A franchisee creates the legendary Big Mac®, which immediately makes its way onto the McDonald's menu.
The thousandth restaurant in the world opens its doors.
First inroads into Europe
McDonald's makes its first inroads into Europe, in the Netherlands.
The first Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia
In Philadelphia, the first Ronald McDonald House is built. There, the parents of gravely ill children are accommodated. Today, there are over 200 of these houses worldwide.
The first Belgian McDonald's restaurant
The first Belgian McDonald's restaurant opens its doors on 21 March 1978, opposite the Brussels Stock Exchange. Over the following years, 10 more restaurants open, spread all across the country. Local management of the outlets is ensured from the European headquarters.
Since the very beginning, McDonald's Belgium has worked on lowering its ecological footprint, and in 1980 it installed the first heat pumps in its restaurants.
McDonald's makes itself heard...
The first McDrive, the famous cornerstone of the brand's success, opens in Mantes-la-Ville. The British magazine The Economist creates the "Big Mac® Index". The principle is the following: by comparing the retail price of a Big Mac® in different countries around the world, you can determine whether a currency is overvalued against the dollar.
McDonald's is the first fast food franchise to inform its patrons of the composition of its products by publishing the full list of ingredients.
McDonald's Belgian headquarters is established
McDonald's Belgian headquarters is established: the start of a period of expansion and development of long-term relationships with Belgian entrepreneurs-franchisees.
100% into biodiesel
At McDonald's in Belgium, fried oil recycling is going at full tilt! 100 % of used fried oils are recycled to produce biodiesel.
The Happy Meal® goes for variation
Children now get to choose from 160 different menu combinations. The famous menu, devised with children in mind, comprises breaded fish, apple sauce, mineral water and milk drinks. Real treats for the kids, and for the parents, the certainty of having made a good choice.
McDonald's celebrates 25 years in Belgium, and that same year, the Happy Meal® Choice concept is launched.
McDonald’s launches Salads Plus!
In addition to the "classic" sandwiches on offer, McDonald's now also has tasty salads, crisp fruit, creamy fruit yoghurts, etc.
For the first time, McDonalds organizes a national open kitchen day: everyone can come and find out how things work in the kitchen of their favourite McDonald's. Absolutely everything is shown: what happens to used fried oils, how and why the temperature in the fridge and cold store is measured several times a day, why the grill is cleaned after every use, why staff wash their hands at least once every hour, and so much more! Did you know that the kitchens of all McDonald's restaurants in Belgium can be visited on request, any day of the year?
Elected Best Employer in Belgium by its employees
When first taking part in 2006, McDonald's Belgium comes 22nd in the list of Best Employers in Belgium. Year after year, the company makes its way up the ranking, and in 2013 it lands the top spot. Ever since, McDonald's Belgium has been a top-3 contender every year—a fantastic acknowledgement from the employees.
The year of the new Happy Meal®, Wi-Fi, green energy, sustainable coffee...
- McDo Belgium keeps working on its food profiles. Since McDonald’s has systematically added vegetables to the Happy Meal®, children eat over 10 more tonnes of veg every month. Adding fruit as a choice for dessert in the Happy Meal® is a big hit with our young patrons: 3 out of 4 now opt for fruit or a milk product for dessert.
- Since 2007, all McDonald's restaurants in Belgium have been using nothing but green energy generated by wind and water turbines.
- There's no toll to pay on the McDonald's information highway! The Wi-Fi network deployed in all McDo restaurants means all customers can surf the web for free.
McDonald's takes a new step in its environment policy
Ever since 1992, McDonald's has pursued a special environment policy. In 2005, McDonald's renewed its commitment by promising to cut back the greenhouse gases emitted per meal served by 8% by 2010. That objective was achieved in 2008.
Since January 2008, McDonald's has exclusively been using pork from non-castrated pigs, as well as free-range eggs. McDo was the first restaurant chain in Belgium to switch to free-range eggs. Gaia applauds McDo for these initiatives.
The Green Truck: in-house system for the collection and processing of all waste from its restaurants
McDo Belgium creates its own in-house system for the collection and processing of all waste from its restaurants. A green truck collects all the waste and transports it in 7 separate partial flows. By the way, all McDonald's packaging is made from 90 % recycled materials.
McDonald's also "feeds" electric vehicles, and installed the very first public charging station at Maasmechelen's McDonald's outlet in 2009.
McDonald's snags the Mercury Award for employer with the best reputation.
Your order is brought to your table
In Waterloo's McDonald's restaurant, customers receive table service for the first time.
McDonald's goes the extra mile with the Maestro Burgers
The Magnificent Maurice is the first Maestro Burger: these are generous burgers with surprising flavours and ingredients.
Make it veggie, a 100% vegetarian product range
McDonald’s introduces a delicious new vegetarian concept. From here on in, vegetarians, flexitarians, or anyone looking for something different can order a vegetarian version of the McChicken and the McWraps.
McDelivery™ starts in Brussels
Customers want to choose where they eat their Big Mac: in the comfort of their couch, or on a park bench. That's why McDonald's kicks off McDelivery™ in the capital.
Garbage, we take it personally
McDonald's Belgium launches the "We take it personally" campaign to raise litter awareness among customers. In addition, it takes part in clean-up initiatives and sets up local collaborative efforts to locally deal with littering.
In September 2018, McDonald's Belgium launched a test project with cardboard straws in 8 restaurants.
Big Mac celebrates its fiftieth birthday
For 50 years now, this cult classic has remained the same—a feast for all aficionados' taste buds.
40 years of Happy Meals
The little ones can now choose between a booklet and a toy as their Happy Meal present.
More veggie options
McDonald’s Belgium definitively puts vegetarian products on the menu and, for the first time in Belgium, introduces vegetarian nuggets—which are also in the Happy Meal.
Hello, paper straws
All Belgian restaurants switch to paper straws.
First Belgian Ronald McDonald House
In 2019, the first Ronald McDonald House opened in Belgium, right beside KidZ Health Castle, the children's hospital of UZ Brussel. The House boasts rooms for 10 families, who can stay here for as long as their child is in hospital.