Al Bernardin
Al Bernardin
McDonald's franchisee Al Bernardin eating his prize creation, the Quarter Pounder with Cheese sandwich, which he developed at his restaurant in Monterey, CA in 1977.
Vital Information
Born: (1928-02-17)February 17, 1928
Birthplace: Lawrence, Massachusetts, U.S.
Died: May 30, 2011(2011-05-30) (aged 83)
Deathplace: Monterey, California, U.S.
Career information
Businessman, Business Executive, McDonald's restaurant franchisee
Appeared in/
Involved with:
created the Quarter Pounder with Cheese sandwich in 1977
helped develop idea fro the Filet-O-Fish sandwich, as well as several other menu items

Al Bernardin (February 17, 1928 – December 22, 2009) was a restaurateur and businessman who invented the McDonald's Quarter Pounder with Cheese in 1971 as a restaurant franchisee in Fremont, CA. The creation of the Quarter Pounder earned him the nickname "Fremont's hamburger king."[1]

Bernadin later became McDonald's vice president of product development. His position allowed him to play a key role in the development of some of the company's signature menu items, including frozen french fries, which allowed for easier storage and transportation, as well as the McDonald's fish sandwich, apple pie and cherry pie.[1][2]


Bernardin was born and raised in Lawrence, MA, a Boston suburb.[3] He received his Bachelor's degree from Cornell University n 1952.[3]

He was first hired to work at McDonald's Illinois corporate headquarters in 1960.[1] Bernardin was promoted to dean of the company's training center, Hamburger University, within just six months of joining McDonald's.

Development of the Quarter Pounder

Quarter Pounder with Cheese

McDonald's Quarter "Pounder with Cheese" sandwich.

Bernardin purchased two company-owned McDonald's in Fremont, CA, and relocated to the city in 1970.[1] He successfully expanded his McDonald's franchise business, eventually owning nine of the restaurants throughout southern  Alameda County.[1]

Once in Fremont, Bernardin began experimenting with new menu items for his franchises. In 1971, Bernardin introduced the now famous Quarter Pounder at his McDonald's locations.[1] He explained his idea for the Quarter Pounder in a 1991 interview marking the 20th anniversary of the burger's development saying, "felt there was a void in our menu vis-à-vis the adult who wanted a higher ratio of meat to bun."[1] Bernardin unveiled the Quarter Pounder using the slogan, "Today Fremont, tomorrow the world."[1] The Quarter Pounder is now one of McDonald's most popular signature items, having been added to the national American menu in 1973.

Other McDonald's contributions

Additionally, Al worked as McDonald's Vice President of product development during his career with the company.[1] Though he was most famous for introducing the Quarter Pounder, Bernardin felt that his most important contribution to McDonald's and the larger fast food industry was the development of frozen french fries.[1] Until 1967, all McDonald's french fries had to be cut on-site from stored potatoes and fried. Bernardin's frozen fries allowed for easier transport of the product and cleared storage space which was previously used for storing potatoes. He explained the benefits of frozen fries saying, "Before that, the (restaurants) had to store potatoes in the basement]. It was a real pain."[1]

As Vice President, Bernardin also shepherded the development of the McDonald's Filet-O-Fish, as well the company's fried apple and cherry pies. Not all of Bernadin's suggestions were included on McDonald's menus. McDonald's turned down his idea for a ground turkey meat burger called the McGobbler.[1] The company also dismissed his The Lite Mac sandwich, which would have consisted of a one fifth-pound burger patty containing 15% less beef fat than a normal Big Mac.

Bernardin spent approximately two years developing a prototype for buttered corn-on-the-cob, according to his son, Mark Bernardin, who is also a McDonald's franchise owner.[1]

Later life

Bernardin and his wife, Joan Bernardin, became involved in philanthropy after his uncle received treatment in a hospice. Impressed by his uncle's hospice care, Bernardin founded the Tree of Angels, a Christmas tree lighting festival designed to raise money for the Pathways Hospice, based in Sunnyvale, CA.

The couple moved to the [Monterey, CA, area in the mid-1990s, eventually settling in Pebble Beach. Al spent time as a volunteer at hospices throughout northern California. Bernardin became a major benefactor for the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, known as CHOMP.

In addition to his home in Pebble Beach, Bernardin also had residences in leasanton, CA, Spanish Bay and Cape Cod.


Bernardin suffered from a stroke later in his life. He died of stroke[1] on December 22, 2009, at Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula in Monterey, CA, at the age of 81. He was survived by his wife, Joan, two children, Kirsten and Mark, three stepchildren, Dan Ryan, Julie Bullas, Kristie Ryan and ten grandchildren.


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 Artz, Matthew. "Fremont's 'hamburger king' dead at 81", Oakland Tribune, 2009-12-31. Retrieved on 2010-01-12. 
  2. "Pebble Beach Resident Remembered for Quarter Pounder", KION-TV, 2010-01-02. Retrieved on 2010-01-12. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "PASSINGS: Bill Mulligan, Al Bernardin", Los Angeles Times, 2010-01-13. Retrieved on 2010-01-14. 

External links

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors). Wikipedia logo 660x475 Red Background
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.