June 12 (Reuters) – It looks and smells like McDonald’s but now it’s Vkusno & tochka. The gold arches are gone, the Filet-O-Fish is simply a fish burger. Big Mac left Russia.
The new era of Russia’s fast food and economic scene dawned on Sunday as McDonald’s. (MCDN) Restaurants have opened their doors in Moscow under the new Russian ownership and the new name translates as “delicious and that’s it”.
The American burger company first opened its doors in Moscow on a symbolic border between East and West and opened renamed outlets more than three decades ago, once again a blatant sign of a new world order. The reopening took place on Russia Day, a holiday that celebrates national pride.
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The fortunes of the chain that McDonald’s sold when he left the country during the conflict in Ukraine could provide a test of how successfully Russia’s economy will become self-sufficient and withstand Western sanctions. read more
On Sunday, a large crowd lined up outside McDonald’s main restaurant in central Moscow’s Pushkin Square. The store has a new logo – a stylized burger with two fries – and a slogan: “Name changes, love stays”.
The queue was significantly smaller than the thousands of people who came to the original McDonald’s opening in 1990 during the Soviet era.
“We liked McDonald’s because everything should be as low quality as ever,” said Sardana Tonskaya, an IT employee who stood in line 32 years ago for the first taste of a brand that simulated Western capitalism. Returned Sunday to launch its successor.
Vkusno & tochka’s menu was small and did not serve some burgers and desserts like Big Mac and McFlurry. A double cheese burger costs 129 rubles ($ 2.31), about 160 under McDonald’s and 169 rubles for a fish burger, up from 190 previously.
The composition of the burgers has not changed and McDonald’s equipment remains intact, said Alexander Merculov, quality manager of the new company.
McDonald’s said it had closed its Russian restaurants in March and decided to leave the country entirely in mid – May, one of the highest trade departures since Russia’s sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on February 24.
Most of the packaging for prices and burgers was plain white, with beverage cups, while the takeaway bags were plain brown, indicating that new owners would have to rename them at launch. The old McDonald’s logo on the pockets of ketchup and other sauces was covered with temporary black markings.
Sergei, a 15-year-old customer, saw little difference.
“The taste is the same,” he said, tucked into a chicken burger and fry. “The cola is different, but there’s really been no change in the burger.”
Better than Big Mac?
The Moscow restaurant is one of the 15 renamed outlets that will open in and around the capital on Sunday. Oleg Paroev, CEO of Vkusno & tochka, said the company plans to reopen 200 restaurants in Russia by the end of June and 850 by the end of the summer. See checkbox:
“We have not worked for three months,” said Rusanna, manager of the Moscow branch, which is scheduled to open in July. “Everyone is so happy.”
Barrow, who was appointed McDonald’s CEO of Russia just weeks before the start of the Ukraine conflict, said the chain would retain its old McDonald’s interior but would remove any references to its previous name.
“Our aim is that our guests will not notice a difference in quality or surroundings,” Barrow told a news conference at the restaurant.
Alexander Gower, a Siberian businessman who is the new owner of the business, told Reuters he was about to launch something similar to McDonald’s signature Big Mac.
“We have no right to use certain colors, no right to use gold arches, no right to use any references to McDonald’s,” he told Reuters.
“Big Mac is McDonald’s story. We’ll definitely do something similar,” he said. “We will try to do something even better for our visitors and guests to love this dish.”
CEO Barrow said the company is looking for new suppliers of soft drinks as some shares of Coca-Cola are declining. (KO.N), Which suspends its sales in Russia. Barrow said all but 2% of the chain’s products are sourced within Russia.
Not everyone is impressed.
Minutes after the news conference, a man stood in front of the cameras holding up a sign that read, “Bring the Big Mac Back.” He was quickly evicted by restaurant staff.
New Owner: I paid the symbolic amount
Gov. was one of many Russians who looted property as hundreds of Western companies fled. On Sunday he said McDonald’s had paid Russia an “index” figure “much lower than the market price”. McDonald’s, the world’s largest burger chain, has raised $ 1.4 billion following sales.
Russian officials have said the U.S. group has the right to repurchase its restaurants within 15 years – but on that possibility Kopor poured cold water.
“They made it clear to me that they would not buy back,” Interfax quoted him as saying.
McDonald’s said it would retain tens of thousands of employees of the Gower chain for at least two years, and was not immediately available for comment on the terms of the sale or its future Russian intentions.
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Report by Reuters; Editing Josephine Mason and Pravin Sir
Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.