President Reagan Ate Here Memorial.

President Reagan Ate Here McDonald's

Field review by the editors.

Northport, Alabama

On October 15, 1984, President Ronald Reagan gave a reelection campaign speech at the University of Alabama. Afterward, his motorcade pulled into the parking lot of the Northport McDonald's.

This was a secret, scheduled stop: Reagan's PR people wanted a photo opportunity to show that the President was a regular guy. Reagan walked to the counter, and being unaccustomed to fast food dining, turned to an aide and asked "What am I supposed to order?" Then the President sat down next to two men (selected by his Secret Service agents) and began to discuss University of Alabama football.

In the years that followed, Rod Hughley, the McDonald's manager, displayed memorabilia from that day in the restaurant, such as the $20 bill that was used to pay for the food that Reagan ordered (a Big Mac, large fries, and a sweet tea), and a "President Reagan ate here" plaque at the table where he had sat.

But eventually the memorabilia disappeared. On January 11, 2006, the old store was bulldozed; on May 8 a new $1.5 million McDonald's opened on the spot -- and the owner, Rick Hanna, revived the memory of the now-dead Gipper. The new restaurant features a bronze bust of Reagan, inside a glass case next to the bathrooms, with halogen lights illuminating it 24 hours a day. Flanking the head is the famous photo-op photo of Reagan eating his Big Mac, and the plaque, "President Reagan ate here."

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President Reagan Ate Here McDonald's

Northwood Shopping Center

2300 Mcfarland Blvd., Northport, AL
I-359 into Tuscaloosa. The road turns into Hwy 13/Lurleen Wallace Blvd. Continue north across the river into Northport. About a mile north of the bridge, turn left onto Mcfarland Blvd/US Hwy 82. You'll see the McDonald's on the right. The Reagan display is to the right of the order counter, next to the men's room.
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January 22, 2021

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