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McDonald's Gets KP Duty at El Toro

March 24, 1985

The decor and the menu are fast-food traditional, no portraits of the legendary Lt. Gen. Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller on the wall and no instant mashed potatoes or powdered eggs at the counter. Despite the lack of military accoutrements--or perhaps just for that reason--the troops have been lining up in droves at the newest chow line at the Marine Corps Air Station at El Toro.

The drawing card, for a generation of Leathernecks who grew up munching on hamburgers and fries at the local fast food hangout, is that McDonald's is in town--or, more accurately, on base. The Chicago-based fast-food giant recently signed a contract to establish McDonald's outlets at 300 Navy bases around the world. The El Toro unit, which opened March 13 and has been packing 'em in ever since, is the second of the 300 to open.

For McDonald's the attraction is sales--sales to a captive audience with no place else to go but the base mess hall or the post exchange cafeterias. McDonald's first military installation, at the Marine's Camp Pendleton in San Diego County, reportedly grossed $3 million in 1983.

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