The restaurant that launched McDonald’s in Russia in 1990, heralding the opening of Moscow after decades of Soviet rule, reopened on Sunday with a new name and logo in a powerful reminder of the upheaval caused by conflict in Ukraine.
The American fast food giant announced on May 16 that it would leave Russia following its offensive in Ukraine.
On Sunday, in Moscow’s Pushkin Square, dozens of people gathered outside the Russian incarnation of fast food, “Vkusno i tochka” (“Delicious. Period”), well before the official opening at noon (09:00 a.m. GMT).
“My whole family went… to McDonald’s three times for a farewell meal,” Elena, a programmer and mother of two, told AFP.
“Now we’re going for a reunion lunch,” she smiled.
Inside, Oleg, 31, one of the first customers to receive his order, said “Vkusno i tochka” was “delicious, beautiful and cheap”.
The restaurant, on the very spot where the very first McDonald’s opened with long lines and much fanfare in January 1990, is among the first 15 to welcome customers.
Another 50 restaurants are expected to open on Monday, according to Oleg Paroev, chief executive of the new group, with the chain then planning to reopen 50 to 100 a week across the country.
In place of the Golden Arches there is a new logo – two stylized orange fries next to a red dot on a green background.
There are always double cheeseburgers on the menu, as well as a wide choice of ice cream and desserts. But the “Mc” prefix no longer appears.
“We had to remove some items from the menu because they directly reference McDonald’s, such as McFlurry and Big Mac,” Paroev said.
Prices rose “slightly” as inflation hit Russia hard after Western countries imposed sanctions, but remained “reasonable”, he added.
As for the packaging, it is “neutral” – “no words, no letters” should remind customers of the McDonald’s Group, Paroyev said.
McDonald’s Russian restaurants accounted for around 9% of the American group’s turnover.
Three days after the company was announced to be exiting in May, Russian businessman Alexander Govor, who had been fired from the chain, bought the operation of 850 restaurants.
“I am ambitious and I plan not just to open the 850 restaurants but to develop new ones,” Govor said on Sunday.
Under the terms of the sale, Govor agreed to retain employees for at least two years and fund debts to suppliers, landlords and utilities, McDonald’s said.
Pricing for the deal was not disclosed, but in announcing its exit, McDonald’s said it planned to take a one-time charge of $1.2 billion to $1.4 billion to amortize the investment.
McDonald’s had employed 62,000 workers in Russia.
Govor, licensed since 2015, operates 25 restaurants in Siberia. He is a co-founder of NefteKhimService, a refining company, and a board member of a company that owns the Park Inn hotel and private clinics in Siberia.