Moscow (AP) – “Everything tastes the same as before, only the queue is worse,” says a young man. On Sunday afternoon, he and his friends are standing in front of one of the old McDonald’s branches that have reopened in central Moscow under new Russian ownership.
Hundreds of people were already waiting in front of the building on Pushkin Square more than an hour before the entrance on Sunday. The chain now bears the name “Wkusno i totschka”: “Delicious, period.” It also has a new logo: two orange stripes and a red circle on a dark green background, representing two French fries and a hamburger.
“Filet-o-Fish” is now “Fish Burger”
Beyond that, though, you should change as little as possible. The restaurant locations are the same, as are the staff and the menu is almost identical to McDonald’s. Only the “Filet-o-Fish” burger is now called the “Fish Burger”, the “Royal” burger has become the “Grand” and the “Double Royal” the “Double Grand”.
After more than 30 years, McDonald’s temporarily closed its business in Russia in early March in response to the war of aggression against Ukraine launched by Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin. Like several other international companies, the fast-food group has finally pulled out of the world’s largest country in terms of area, where it was one of the largest employers with 62,000 local employees.
Only at train stations and airports should individual restaurants initially continue to operate under the US logo due to special franchise agreements that are not easy to cancel.
The mayor of Moscow has also come
The new owner, businessman Alexander Gowor, now wants to reopen all 850 branches across the country within two months. He has already operated 25 McDonald’s branches in Siberia in recent years. Gowor, who once made his fortune in the mining and oil industries, is contractually obligated to keep existing employees on the same terms for at least two years. Meanwhile, Gowor is no longer allowed to use the McDonald’s brand symbols.
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin also attended Pushkin Square on the opening day, which symbolically coincides with the “Russia Day” holiday. Sobyanin praises “Lecker und Punkt” as a successful Russian model.
McDonald’s has always thought of itself as American, but in reality “everything is ours, Russian,” he says, also referring to the Russian farmers from whom the American company sourced ingredients for its Russian branches. Politicians loyal to the Kremlin continue to stress that Western sanctions cannot hurt Russia and that it will even come out stronger. The new string should test that.
However, in the early 1990s, the opening of the first McDonald’s branches was also a sign of change and departure in Russia. And so the new Russian “McDonald’s” now also represents the hardened fronts between Moscow and the West.
What was on the table was eaten.
The comeback in Russian attire also attracts many older people. You may have witnessed the opening of the first Russian McDonald’s on this very spot more than three decades ago, when the line was up to 500 meters long. Now the rush is less, some say.
For the rest, there are mainly young Muscovites, for whom McDonald’s was part of everyday life and who now want to see how things will continue. One man says that he doesn’t really like the new logo, “but we’ll get used to it.”
“Delicious, period” – that sounds something like in the Russian original: It tastes good and that’s it. This makes some people smile, as the wording is reminiscent of Soviet gastronomy, which was not necessarily known for its high standards of service. She ate what was on the table. And done.
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