Nostalgia for Russia opens “McDonald’s Russian” restaurant

“The name changes, but the love stays”: The first Russian McDonald’s opened its doors on Sunday under this slogan in a country nostalgic for the American fast food chain that 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 represents 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,” emphasized the general manager of the chain, Oleg Paroïev.

“It will not be worse, that is for sure. And the new owner, businessman Alexandre Gauffeur, added, we will try to make it better” than before.

“We hope that the number of customers will not decrease but, on the contrary, increase. Especially since it is now an all-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 became firmly rooted in their daily lives and hearts. And very popular Russian restaurants accounted for about 9% of the sales of the American group.

The Russians did not understand its decision to suspend operations of 850 restaurants and 62,000 employees in March, then leave the country permanently in May due to the Russian offensive on Ukraine that began on February 24.

Normal packaging, names have changed

“My whole family has gone…three times to McDo’s for a farewell meal,” Elena, a programmer and mother of two, told AFP on Sunday.

She smiles, “Now we’re going to a reunion lunch.”

As of Sunday morning, before the official opening at 9:00 am, dozens of people gathered near the emblematic restaurant of the Russian capital, Pushkin Square, one of the first fifteen restaurants to welcome customers.

On Monday, 50 more restaurants are set to open, 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 selection of ice cream and desserts, but Filet-O-Fish is now called Fishburger, Royal Deluxe has been converted to Grand Deluxe and the prefix MacDow no longer appears on any name. .

“We had to remove some products from the menu because they refer directly to McDonald’s, such as McFlurry and Big Mac,” explains Oleg Paroïev.

Prices have risen “slightly” due to inflation that has hit Russia hard since the introduction of new Western sanctions in February and March, following the Russian attack on Ukraine, but they are still “reasonable,” according to the director general of “Vkousno i totchka”.

As for the packaging, it’s “neutral”: “No word, no letter” should mention the McDonald’s group, he explains.

“Ambitious projects”

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 welcomed more than 30,000 customers on opening day – a world record for a channel.

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The huge queue in front of the restaurant became legendary.

The most visited McDonald’s restaurant in the world, according to the figures of the American group, in 30 years has received more than 140 million customers, almost equal to the total population of Russia.

Alexander Govor, who has operated 25 restaurants of the American group in Siberia since 2015, bought McDonald’s activities in May.

The co-founder of oil refinery Neftekhimservice has agreed to keep 51,000 direct employees — another 11,000 working in franchised restaurants — for at least two years, under conditions similar to those they previously worked in.

The 62-year-old businessman from Novokuznetsk (southern Siberia), who until now was little known outside the business world, says that he has “very ambitious plans”: “We want to have a thousand restaurants in five or six years.

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