The Nation's First Black-Owned McDonalds Reopens With New Technology, Art, and Even a Classroom
"I wanted to bring the community together," its new owner, Yolanda Travis, says.
The nation's first Black-owned McDonald's franchise is slated to return just in time for Black History Month.
The fast-food franchise opened its doors in Chicago in 1968, following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., while protests erupted across the city.
The restaurant was initially franchised by Herman Petty, a Chicago change agent, who passed away in 2009. Now, Yolanda Travis is carrying on the legacy as the new owner and operator of the McDonald's located at 65th St. and Stony Island Ave. in Chicago's Woodlawn neighborhood. And, The Chicago Crusader reports, the updated McDonald's will offer modernized food ordering technology and a polished new look.
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The Crusader added, throughout the remodel, Travis worked to preserve historical aspects of the restaurant, such as the mural of Petty and Don Thompson, McDonald's first Black president and CEO. In addition, Travis plans to add more technology components to appeal to the younger generation. There are schools nearby, and the team at this McDonald's wants the site to be a hub where students feel welcomed with ample opportunity to charge their phones or laptops. One of the most notable upgrades is a classroom area, which will have space for Black History Month learning and activities.
Despite the franchise's longevity, it was no easy road to become established as the first Black-owned McDonald's. Petty built a business during the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, and general community unrest, per the National Black McDonald's Operators Association (NBMOA). Yet, this particular franchise fueled hope, leading to the opening of dozens more Black-owned McDonald's by 1969. So naturally, Petty and other leaders began to connect, provide support, and share resources leading to the formation of NBMOA in 1972, which still operates today.
The quest for Travis to preserve the legacy of the U.S.'s first Black-owned McDonald's has been a dream in the making for years, according to the company. Travis shared with McDonald's in a blog post, "I wanted to bring the community together and show and tell them about this wonderful Black man, Mr. Herman Petty. There are very few Black historical sites on the south side of Chicago, so this was my opportunity to give back to the community."