“Name changes, love is there”: The first “Russian McDonald” opened their doors on Sunday under this slogan, nostalgic for the American fast food chain that left the country due to the conflict in Ukraine.
“Vkousno i totchka” (delicious. Point) is the new name of the brand, which was published in Moscow on Sunday in front of a hundred Russian and foreign journalists. The new logo represents two stylized orange fringes and a red dot on a green background.
“We will try our best to ensure that our customers do not notice any difference in atmosphere, taste or quality,” promised Oleg Faroev, general manager of the chain.
“It’s not going to be bad, it’s for sure. We will try to do it better than before,” said Alexandre Gower, the new owner and businessman.
Founded in Russia for more than 30 years, McDonald’s was one of the first windows opened for Russians in the Western world and anchored in their daily lives and in their hearts. The most popular, Russian restaurants account for about 9% of US group revenue.
Its decision to suspend the operations of its 850 restaurants and 62,000 employees in March and then forcibly leave the country in May due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24, was badly digested by the Russians.
– Simple packaging, names 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. “Now we’re going to have lunch again,” she smiles.
Dozens of people gathered near the iconic restaurant in the Russian capital, Pushkin Square, before GMT officially opens at 9:00 a.m. Sunday, one of the first fifteen restaurants to greet customers.
On Monday, another 50 restaurants are set to open, and according to Barrow, the chain plans to reopen 50 to 100 restaurants a week across the country.
On the menu, the same range as before: cheese and double cheese burgers, a variety of ice creams and desserts, but Filet-O-Fish is now called Fishburger, replaced by Royal Deluxe Grand Deluxe and prefix. McDo no longer appears by any name.
“I was forced to remove some products from the menu because they refer directly to McDonald’s, such as McFlurry and Big Mac,” Oleg Paroïev explains.
Inflation has hit Russia hard since new Western sanctions were imposed in February and March following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but prices have risen “slightly,” according to the general director of “Vkousno i totchka”.
As for the packaging, it is “neutral”: “no word, no letter” to remind the McDonald’s team, he explains.
– “Ambitious projects” –
The first McDonald’s in the Soviet Union, Pushkin Square, opened in the center of Moscow in January 1990, less than two years before the fall of the Soviet Union, welcoming more than 30,000 customers on its opening day – a world record. Chain.
The huge queue in front of the restaurant has become legendary.
The most visited McDonald’s restaurant in the world, according to the American team, has welcomed more than 140 million customers in 30 years, equivalent to almost the entire Russian population.
Alexandre Gower, who has run the US Group’s 25 restaurants in Siberia since 2015, bought McDonald’s operations in May.
He is the co-founder of oil refining company Neftekhimservice, which has 51,000 direct employees – 11,000 others agreed to be employees of restaurants under the franchise – for at least two years, under the same conditions as before.
The 62-year-old entrepreneur from Novokuznetsk (southern Siberia), who is hitherto unknown outside the business world, says he has “very ambitious plans”: “We want the number of our restaurants to reach a thousand in five or six years.”