Nostalgia for Russia opens “McDonald’s Russian” restaurant
“The name changes, but the love remains”: the first Russian McDonald’s opened its doors on Sunday under this slogan in a country nostalgic for the American fast food chain which left the country due to the conflict in Ukraine.
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“Vkousno i totchka” (Delicious. Point) is the new name of the sign, which was unveiled Sunday in Moscow in front of a hundred Russian and foreign journalists. The new logo features two stylized orange potatoes and a red dot on a green background.
“We will try to do everything so that our customers do not notice any difference, neither in terms of atmosphere, nor in terms of taste, nor in terms of quality”, underlined the director general of the chain, Oleg Paroïev.
“It won’t be worse, that’s for sure. And the new owner, businessman Alexandre Gauffeur, added, we will try to do better than before.
“We hope that the number of customers will not decrease but, on the contrary, will increase. Especially since it is now an entirely Russian company.
Founded more than 30 years ago in Russia, McDonald’s was one of the first windows in the Western world that opened to Russians and firmly anchored in their daily lives and their hearts. And the very popular Russian restaurants accounted for about 9% of the American group’s sales.
The Russians did not understand his decision to suspend the operations of 850 restaurants and 62,000 employees in March, then to leave the country permanently in May due to the Russian offensive on Ukraine which began on February 24.
Normal packaging, names have changed
“My whole family went… to McDonald’s three times for a farewell meal,” Elena, a programmer and mother of two, told AFP on Sunday.
She smiled, “Now we’re going to a reunion lunch.”
From Sunday morning, before the official opening at 9:00 a.m., dozens of people gathered near the emblematic restaurant in the Russian capital, Pushkin Square, one of the first fifteen restaurants to welcome customers.
Another 50 restaurants are expected to open on Monday, according to Baruev, with the chain planning to reopen 50 to 100 restaurants a week across the country.
On the menu, the same range as before: cheeseburgers and double cheeseburgers, a wide choice of ice cream and desserts, but Filet-O-Fish is now called Fishburger, Royal Deluxe has been converted to Grand Deluxe and the MacDow prefix no longer no longer appears on any name. .
“We had to remove certain products from the menu because they directly referred to McDonald’s, such as McFlurry and Big Mac”, explains Oleg Paroïev.
Prices have risen “slightly” due to inflation which has hit Russia hard since the introduction of new Western sanctions in February and March, following the Russian attack on Ukraine, but they remain “reasonable”, according to the general director of “Vkusno i totchka”.
As for the packaging, it is “neutral”: “No word, no letter” should mention the McDonald’s group, he explains.
The first McDonald’s in the USSR, Pushkin Square, opened in central Moscow in January 1990, just under two years before the collapse of the Soviet Union, and served more than 30,000 customers on the day opening, a world record for a channel.
The huge queue in front of the restaurant has become legendary.
The most visited McDonald’s restaurant in the world, according to figures from the American group, has received more than 140 million customers in 30 years, almost the equivalent of the total population of Russia.
Alexander Govor, who has operated 25 of the American group’s restaurants in Siberia since 2015, bought McDonald’s operations in May.
The oil refinery co-founder Neftekhimservice has agreed to keep 51,000 direct employees – another 11,000 working in franchise restaurants – for at least two years, under conditions similar to those they previously worked under.
The 62-year-old businessman from Novokuznetsk (southern Siberia), hitherto little known outside the business world, says he has “very ambitious plans”: “We want to have a thousand restaurants in here five or six years.