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McDonald's serves up a slice of history

Downey, California (AP) - Customers lined up before sunrise for the first burgers, fries and shakes served by the newly restored, oldest McDonald's restaurant in the world.

The eatery - restored to its original red and white tiles and "Speedee" sign - was first opened on 18 August 1953, but was closed in 1994 because of damage from an earthquake.

The neon Speedee, a smiling chef perched atop a 60-foot-tall arch, was a source of civic pride in the community 15 miles southeast of Los Angeles. Pre-servationists battled to save the landmark, and the company eventually gave in and drop- ped its plans to close it.

"We wanted to do the right thing for the community of Downey and out of respect for our heritage," said Jeff Schwartz, a regional vice president for McDonald's Corp.

Like the original, it has no indoor seating. There is outdoor seating for 100. A campaign to preserve the stand gained steam in 1994, when the National Trust for Historic Preservation declared it one of the country's 11 most endangered landmarks and "an authentic icon of contemporary American life."