Steve and Jane Dietz are very proud of the McDonald's empire they created. "This is the first franchise in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana," Jane Dietz said, right before she went behind the counter and poured drinks.
Her husband manned the frying station. "This is where it all started," he said.
As a 15 year old, Steve Dietz worked at a midwest McDonald's. "My objective wasn't to get fired one more time," he remembered. "Make the change right, make the shakes right. And to maybe be the best employee they had." His plan must have worked. Less than five years later, he brought McDonald's to Mississippi. "In America, anyone that works hard can start at the fry station and someday own their own McDonald's or business," he said.
On the wall of the Pass Road store are pictures from the early days. A younger, somewhat thinner Steve Dietz worked seven days a week to make the restaurant near Keesler Air Force Base a hit. "The customer gave you the order, you remembered the order, hamburger, cheeseburger, french fries, milk shakes, drinks," he said. "And when you got back to the counter, you had to add up the complete order, add the sales tax, and it was just like that."
Today Dietz has trouble remembering McDonald's famous Big Mac jingle from the 1970s.. He made it through two all beef patties, special sauce, and lettuce. But then the word tomato came out of his mouth. The Big Mac doesn't have tomatoes. He laughed and said he couldn't do it. The actual jingle is, "Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun."
Think about this for a minute. In 1962, a 19 year old kid dropped out of school in Indiana. He took the $10,000 he earned while working at McDonald's, drove to Biloxi, and bought his own McDonald's. Six stores and 42 years later, that $10,000 investment could easily buy millions of double quarter pounders with cheese.
On December 31, the Dietz's end a nearly 50 year association with the world's most recognizable fast food chain. "It's a happy time," Mrs. Dietz said. After all, the family finally gets to travel without worrying about the golden arches they brought to Mississippi.
Here's a little McDonald's trivia about the golden arches. The marquee outside the Pass Road store is the oldest sign at an existing McDonald's restaurant anywhere in the U.S.
The McDonald's corporation takes over the Dietz restaurants on New Year's Day.