I wonder what “Cramer” thinks about this story? It’s definitely one that makes you feel that “all things are possible” if you just think “outside the box!”

In 1962, 44 year old Lou Groen desperate to save his Cincinnati floundering first McDonald’s restaurant; came up with an inventive idea. His initial problem … a heavily Catholic clientel. Back then, most Catholics abstained from meat every Friday, (not just during Lent.) The solution, a a sandwich that would eventually be consumed at a rate of 300 million a year — the McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish.

“Frisch’s (the local Big Boy chain) dominated the market, and they had a very good fish sandwich,” recalled Groen, now 89. “I was struggling. The crew was my wife, myself, and a man named George. I did repairs, swept floors, you name it. “But that area was 87 percent Catholic. On Fridays we only took in about $75 a day,” said Groen, a Catholic himself. “All our customers were going to Frisch’s. “So I invented my fish sandwich, developed a special batter, made the tartar sauce and took it to headquarters.”

That little visit led to a wager between Groen and McDonald’s chief Ray Kroc, who was preparing his own meatless alternative. “He called his sandwich the Hula Burger,” Groen said. (Picture a toasted bun, covered with a piece of melted American cheese, mustard, ketchup, a pickle…and a slice of grilled pineapple. ) “Ray said to me, “Well, Lou, I’m going to put your fish sandwich on (a menu) for a Friday. But I’m going to put my special sandwich on, too. Whichever sells the most, that’s the one we’ll go with.’

“Friday came and the word came out. I won hands down. I sold 350 fish sandwiches that day.

Ray
never did tell me how his sandwich did. “My fish sandwich was the first addition ever to McDonald’s original menu,” he said. “It saved my franchise.”

Photo by Gannett News Service.

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