It may look and smell like McDonald’s, but now it’s Vkusno & tochka. The golden arch is gone and Filet-O-Fish is just a fish burger. Big Mac has left Russia.
A new era of Russian fast food and economic scenes began on Sunday when McDonald’s restaurants opened their doors to Moscow under the new Russian ownership with a new name translated “delicious, that’s it”.
The fate of the improved chain that McDonald’s sold when he left the country in the conflict in Ukraine can test how well Russia’s economy can become self-sufficient and withstand Western sanctions.
On Sunday, dozens of people lined up outside the former McDonald’s flagship restaurant in central Moscow. In addition to the new logo (a stylized hamburger with two french fries), the outlet had the slogan “Rename, love stays”.
The procession was much smaller than the thousands of people who rushed to the opening of the first McDonald’s in 1990 during the Soviet era.
Vkusno & tochka’s menu was small and Big Mac and other burgers weren’t offered. The double cheeseburger cost 129 rubles ($ 2.31), about 160 rubles at McDonald’s and 169 rubles for the fish burger. Previously it was about 190 rubles.
Alexander Melklov, quality control manager for the new company, said the hamburger composition hasn’t changed and McDonald’s equipment remains.
Sergei, a 15-year-old customer, made little difference.
“The taste doesn’t change,” he said, pushing into chicken burgers and french fries. “The cola is different, but the hamburger hasn’t changed.”
The flagship store in Moscow is one of the 15 rebranded stores that will first open in and around the capital on Sunday. Oleg Paroev, CEO of Vkusno & tochka, said the company plans to reopen 200 stores in Russia by the end of June and all 850 stores by the end of summer.
The chain will keep the interior of the old McDonald’s, but will erase all references to its former name, telling the CEO of McDonald’s Russia a few weeks before Moscow sent tens of thousands of troops to Ukraine on February 24. Appointed Paloev said.
“Our goal is to keep guests unaware of differences in quality and atmosphere,” Paloev said at a media conference at the restaurant. He said the chain would remain “affordable,” but did not rule out a slight rise in the short term.
McDonald’s said it had decided to close its Russian restaurant on March 14 and leave the market in mid-May.
“We didn’t work for three months,” said Ruzanna, the manager of the Moscow branch, which will open in July. “Everyone is very happy.”
Alexander Govor, the new owner of the chain, said this year up to 7 billion rubles ($ 125.56 million) will be invested in a business that employs 51,000 employees.
“The company asked me, in the first place, to keep people to provide work to people. That’s what I’m trying to do,” he added.
Govor said the company is looking for a new supplier of soft drinks, as Coca Cola said it would suspend operations in Russia.
At the end of the press conference, a man with a sign saying “Take home your Big Mac” stood in front of the camera. He was immediately accompanied by the restaurant staff.