Russia opens rebranded McDonald’s restaurants. It may look and smell like McDonald’s, but now it’s Vkusno & tochka. The golden arches are gone, the Filet-O-Fish is simply a fish burger. The Big Mac has left Russia.
A new era for Russia’s fast-food and economic scene dawned on Sunday, when McDonald’s restaurants opened in Moscow under new Russian ownership and with the new name, which translates to “Tasty and that’s it.”
The unveiling of the renowned outlets, more than three decades after the American burger giant first opened its doors in Moscow in a symbolic thaw between East and West, is once again a clear sign of a new order. world. The reopenings took place on Russia Day, a holiday that celebrates national pride.
The fortunes of the chain, which McDonald’s sold when it fled the country over the conflict in Ukraine, could provide proof of how successfully Russia’s economy can become more self-sufficient and resist Western sanctions.
On Sunday, dozens of people lined up outside what was once the flagship McDonald’s restaurant on Pushkin Square in central Moscow. The store sported a new logo, a stylized hamburger with two fries, as well as a tagline that read, “The name changes, love stays.”
The queue was significantly smaller than the thousands of people that packed the original McDonald’s opening there in 1990 during the Soviet era.
Vkusno & tochka’s menu was also smaller and did not offer Big Mac and some other burgers and desserts such as McFlurry. A double cheeseburger was 129 rubles ($2.31) compared to 160 at McDonald’s and a fish burger was 169 rubles, compared to 190 previously.
The composition of the burgers has not changed and the McDonald’s equipment has remained, said Alexander Merkulov, quality manager of the new company.
McDonald’s closed its Russian restaurants in March and said in mid-May that it had decided to leave the country entirely.
In a sign of the rush that the new owners had to rebrand in time for the launch, much of the packaging for the fries and burgers was white, as were the beverage cups, while the to-go bags were white. browns. The old McDonald’s logo on packages of ketchup and other sauces was covered in makeshift black markings.
However, Sergei, a 15-year-old client, saw little difference.
“The taste has stayed the same,” he said as he ate a chicken burger and fries. “The tail is different, but there’s really no change in the burger.”
Better than a Big Mac?
Moscow’s flagship restaurant is among 15 renowned outlets that will initially open in and around the capital on Sunday. Oleg Paroev, CEO of Vkusno & tochka, said the company planned to reopen 200 restaurants in Russia by the end of June and all 850 by the end of the summer.
“For three months we didn’t work,” said Ruzanna, manager of a Moscow branch that is due to open in July. “Everyone is very happy.”
The chain will keep its old McDonald’s interior, but will remove any reference to its former name, said Paroev, who was appointed CEO of McDonald’s in Russia weeks before Moscow sent tens of thousands of troops to Ukraine on February 24.
“Our goal is that our guests do not notice a difference in quality or atmosphere,” Paroev told a news conference at the restaurant. He said the chain would keep “affordable prices,” though he added that prices would probably go up due to inflation, but not more than its competitors.
Siberian businessman Alexander Govor, the chain’s new owner, told Reuters he would seek to launch something similar to McDonald’s flagship Big Mac.