‘The name changes, love remains,’ claims Russia’s new McDonald’s

McDonald’s Russian successor, Vkusno-i Tochka, opened its first restaurant on Sunday. Now owned by a Siberian entrepreneur, the 'Tasty, period' brand is expected to spread across the country. Fifteen of the former McDonald’s were set to reopen in Moscow on Sunday.

Dmitri Serebryakov/AP
People lineup to visit a newly opened fast-food restaurant in Moscow, Russia, on June 12, 2022. Vkusno-i Tochka, or "Tasty, period" in English, is the first of former McDonald’s restaurants to reopen in Russia.

In March, McDonald’s halted operations of its company-run restaurants in Russia. Although some run by franchisees stayed open, the action by the multinational fast-food chain was among the most visible responses by foreign companies to Russia sending troops into Ukraine.

Two months later, McDonald’s decided to leave Russia altogether and sold its 850 restaurants to Alexander Govor, who held licenses for 25 franchises in Siberia.

Mr. Govor is moving fast to reopen the shuttered outlets. It wasn’t until a couple of hours before the Pushkin Square restaurant opened that the Russian chain’s new name was announced: Vkusno-i Tochka (meaning “Tasty, period”).

The logo is different, but still evokes the golden arches: a circle and two yellow oblongs – representing a beef patty and French fries – configured into a stylized M.

Fifteen of the former McDonald’s were set to reopen in Moscow on Sunday. Oleg Paroev, the chain’s general director, said he aims to have 200 open by the end of the month.

As part of the sales deal, whose monetary terms were not announced, the new operation agreed to retain all 62,000 people employed by McDonald’s prior to its exit.

The crowd at the Pushkin Square outlet, however sizable and lively, was no match for the turnout for the McDonald’s opening in 1990, when people waited in line for hours. At that time, McDonald’s had psychological and political resonance beyond hamburgers.

The opening was the first taste most Muscovites had of Western consumerism and service efficiency, as well as a sign the Soviet Union was slowly dropping its guard and allowing foreign culture into the country.

The Monitor’s Linda Feldmann was in Moscow when the first McDonald’s opened there:

They called it “five minutes in the West” – a meal at McDonald’s. In 1990, that dream became a reality for countless Russians, when the nation’s first McDonald’s opened in Moscow’s Pushkin Square. The line snaked for blocks, and by the end of Day One, 30,000 people had been served. ... The food itself was a hit, tastier than the U.S. version, it seemed. Russians said, of course their McDonald’s was better, because their ingredients were locally sourced and not “full of chemicals” – the party line on American food. But that day wasn’t even about the food. It was about being part of the wider world, about the lowering of the Iron Curtain that would soon disappear.

On Sunday, that earlier symbolism echoed through the rebranded fast-food’s reopening with a note of nostalgia.

“This is a historic place — the flagship of McDonald’s,” Mr. 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 for placing orders and counter workers wearing familiar polo-shirt uniforms.

“We’re sure that our customers won’t notice a difference between us,” Mr. Paroev said. However, he said, the company will seek a new soft drinks supplier as it has limited stocks of Coca-Cola.

The story was reported by The Associated Press.

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