The first hamburger served from the grill at the brand-new, just re-opened McDonald's on Neosho Boulevard went to Steve "The Hamburgler" Douglas.

The first hamburger served from the grill at the brand-new, just re-opened McDonald's on Neosho Boulevard went to Steve "The Hamburgler" Douglas.
Douglas received the first hamburger when the original McDonald's opened in January 1979 and he had the honor to once again be the first to enjoy a McDonald's classic burger.
A crowd including McDonald's owner/operators Phil and Jo Hannah Close and Douglas' mom, Bonnie Douglas, were on hand for the historic moment.
"I think it's exciting," Douglas said before he was served. "It brings back a lot of good childhood memories."
Douglas was 10 when the original McDonald's opened in Neosho. In advance of his hamburger, Douglas received gift certificates from the Close family so he can continue to enjoy his burgers.
McDonald's staff served Douglas with the same order he had in 1979, a McDonald's hamburger, an order of fries and a drink.
"It wasn't a Happy Meal," Douglas said. "I don't think they had Happy Meals then."
Happy Meals were first introduced later the same year McDonald's opened in Neosho, 1979, but Douglas is correct - they were not yet available when he enjoyed that first hamburger.
When asked what his favorite McDonald's item is, Douglas remains consistent.
"I like a large coffee, with four creamers, and a hamburger. I still get one 3-4 times a week," he said.
"How exciting it is for Neosho, to have the Boulevard dressed up with this new restaurant. It's great for economic development. A lot of positive things are happening in Neosho."
Phil Close said, "We started tear down on May 6 and there were two big questions we've heard. When will this store re-open and will Steven Douglas get the first hamburger like he did?"
McDonald's opened for business at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, with crowds waiting outside for the doors to open. On Monday evening, a VIP event was held at the restaurant that included a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The "ribbon" consisted of 50 McDonald's fry cartons, each with a $100 bill for a total of $5,000.  Of that, $2,500 of the money was donated to the Neosho R-5 Schools Charitable Foundation and the other $2,500 to the Ronald McDonald House of the Four States in Joplin.  
Close commented on Monday, "You look at the Neosho School District, at the school system. Look at the growth of the school system. What do people look at when when they're considering a community? The school system, the educational opportunities, the activities, the sports, the drama and speech program. I want to tell you that the administration, the school board and the community believe in each other and support each other. That tells you about the school board and the community.
We have the Ronald McDonald House in Joplin and last month it's been open 19 years.”
Annette Thurston has been the director from day one.  Neosho and Newton County are on e of the largest users of the Ronald McDonald house of all the states in the area."
Douglas shared his story of how he happened to get the first hamburger in 1979.
"I grew up two houses up the hill, my childhood home," he said. "I had a fort where I played about where the Play Place is now. One day, some men came onto the property in a truck and told me a McDonald's was going to be built here. I think that was in 1978. I didn't like that so I wrote them a letter."
From letter, Douglas ended up being selected to have the first hamburger served.
When asked how his 2017 burger compared to that first one in 1979, Douglas said. "I've been looking forward to it all week. I think it's (even) better now. It's awesome."
The 7,200 square foot facility is one of the largest McDonald's designs. It offers self-ordering kiosks, a side-by-side drive through, a Play Place, and a larger, attractive dining area with multiple seating options and the capacity to hold 125 customers.
"The only two McDonald's like this one are located in Jefferson City and Columbia, in Missouri," Tristan Baker, a McDonald's employee who made the leap from the old building to the new said. "This is McDonald's future."
Douglas summed up the grand re-opening of McDonald's in a few words.
"I'd like to say that as an adult and an activist in Neosho, I'd like to thank Mr. Close and his family,” he said. “The Boulevard is where a lot of growth is happening."
A framed photograph of the original Neosho Daily News article featuring Douglas' story is on display at the McDonald's on south Neosho Boulevard.
From the smile on his face as he enjoyed his hamburger, Steve "The Hamburgler" Douglas appeared to be lovin' it, McDonald's style.