By Steve RosenbergRussia Editor, Moscow
It’s a Russian revamp of an American icon.
Fast food giant McDonald’s pulled out of Russia in protest at the invasion of Ukraine and sold its restaurants here – more than 800 – to Russian businessman Alexander Govor.
Today the first rebranded restaurants are reopening in Moscow.
There’s a new name: “Vkusno i Tochka”, which translates as “Tasty and that’s it”.
Gone are the Golden Arches, replaced by a stylised letter M, made out of two French fries, and a dot (or, perhaps, a burger?)
Gone are the Big Mac and McFlurry.
But the new owners hope customers won’t notice too many differences. They held a press conference in the flagship restaurant on Pushkin Square, where the very first Moscow McDonald’s opened 32 years ago.
“Our goal is that our guests do not notice a difference either in quality or ambience,” said Oleg Paroyev, CEO of Vkusno i Tochka.
The outlet sported a slogan reading: “The name changes, love stays.”
But one male protester disrupted the event, saying “bring back Big Mac!”
The new company says the burgers’ composition has not changed and the McDonald’s equipment remains.
Back in 1990 I was in the massive queue: it took me three hours to get in and be served. I remember the excitement. The arrival of McDonald’s was a symbol of Soviet Russia embracing Western ideas, Western culture, Western food.
What’s happening here today is a symbol, too: of how Russia and the West are moving apart. And the crowd was a lot smaller.
We’re not just talking burgers. Many global brands and multinational companies have suspended business in Russia or sold up and pulled out completely, in protest at the Russian offensive in Ukraine.
Mr Govor, a Siberian oil magnate, aims to reopen about a quarter of the 850 rebranded McDonald’s restaurants by the end of the month.
Last month McDonald’s announced that it would leave Russia because of the “humanitarian crisis” and “unpredictable operating environment” caused by the war.
Russia and Ukraine accounted for about 9% of McDonald’s global sales last year.
Starbucks, Coca Cola, Levi’s and Apple are among the international brands that have left Russia or suspended sales here since the 24 February invasion of Ukraine.
Russia is now under wide-ranging international sanctions, which are disrupting its supply chains and increasing unemployment.
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