Local residents will have an opportunity to learn some fascinating history about the J&R Double Arch Ranch and its former owners, Ray and Joan Kroc of McDonald’s fame, when Los Angeles-based author Lisa Napoli speaks at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 20, at St. Mark’s-in-the-Valley’s Stacy Hall, 2901 Nojoqui Ave. in Los Olivos.
The evening is hosted by the Friends of the Library of Santa Ynez Valley, and admission is free. A no-host wine bar, featuring wines from the Grassini Family Vineyards, begins at 6:30 p.m., and a book signing will follow the talk.
Californians realize that McDonald’s began in San Bernardino; locals know more specifically that the Egg McMuffin was created in Santa Barbara. But the ties of the corporation to Santa Ynez are even deeper, the author points out.
When he struck gold with the IPO of the company in 1965, the first thing Ray Kroc did was to buy a ranch in the Santa Ynez Valley on Happy Canyon Road. What happened at that ranch and how it was the basis for the wide-ranging philanthropy of Ray’s third wife, Joan, are the subject of Napoli’s book, “Ray and Joan: The man who made the McDonald’s fortune and the woman who gave it all away” (2016, Penguin Random House.)
Guests will hear Napoli talk about her book and how she sleuthed out the incredible details about the J & R Double Arch Ranch.
They also will hear from Lois Kroc, whose father Bob oversaw the building out of the ranch for his brother Ray, and Leslie Pruitt, who currently lives at the ranch and is overseeing its restoration with her husband.
A journalist for more than thirty years, Napoli was among the pioneering team of journalists at the New York Times who covered the early days of the dot-com era. She leads a group of friends in an award-winning volunteer cooking group at the Downtown Women’s Center on Skid Row in Los Angeles and is the founding board chair of the Bhutan Media Service, an all-volunteer news outlet created by Bhutanese refugees in diaspora.
The Friends of the Library of Santa Ynez Valley is an all-volunteer nonprofit that advocates for public libraries and raises funds to support library programming.
For more information, call the Solvang library at 805 688-4214 or email solvanglibrary@santabarbaraCA.gov.