Three months after McDonald’s suspended operations in Russia, hundreds of people flocked to its famous former branch on Moscow’s Pushkin Square as the restaurant reopened on Sunday under a Russian owner and a new name.
In March, McDonald’s halted operations of its company-owned restaurants in Russia. Although some franchised stores remained open, the multinational fast-food chain’s action was among the most visible reactions by foreign companies to Russia’s troop deployment to Ukraine.
Two months later, McDonald’s decided to leave Russia altogether and sold its 850 restaurants to Alexander Govor, who owned licenses for 25 franchises in Siberia.
Govor is moving fast to reopen the closed outlets. Only a few hours before the opening of the restaurant on Pushkin Square, the new name of the Russian chain was announced: Vkusno-i Tochka (Delicious Time).
The logo is different but still evokes the golden arches: a circle and two yellow rectangles – representing a beef patty and french fries – configured in a stylized M.
Fifteen of the former McDonald’s branches were due to reopen in Moscow on Sunday. Oleg Paroev, the chain’s general manager, said he aims to have 200 open by the end of the month.
As part of the sale agreement, the financial terms of which were not disclosed, the new operation agreed to retain all of McDonald’s 62,000 employees prior to its exit.
The crowd at the Pushkin Square outlet, large and lively as it was, was no match for the turnout at McDonald’s opening in 1990, when people waited in line for hours. At the time, McDonald’s had psychological and political resonance beyond hamburgers.
The opening was the first impression most Muscovites had of Western consumerism and service efficiency, and a sign that the Soviet Union was slowly lowering its vigilance and welcoming foreign cultures into the country.
Sunday’s reopening echoed that earlier symbolism with a touch of nostalgia.
“This is a historic place — the flagship McDonald’s,” Govor told reporters. “I’m sure it will be the flagship for us.”
Inside, the restaurant resembled a fraternal twin of its former self. There were touchscreens to place orders and counter clerks in familiar polo shirt uniforms.
“We are sure that our customers will not notice any difference between us,” said Paroev. However, he said the company will be looking for a new soft drink supplier as it has limited Coca-Cola supplies.
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