In early March, McDonald’s closed its stores in Russia in response to the war of aggression against Ukraine. Now a Russian McDonald’s successor has reopened several branches. Much has remained the same, while it is also a symbol for hardened fronts.
“Everything tastes the same as before, only the cola is worse,” says a young man. On Sunday afternoon, he and his friends are standing in front of one of the former McDonald’s branches that have reopened in central Moscow under their new Russian owner. Hundreds of people were already waiting in front of the building on Pushkin Square more than an hour before admission on Sunday. The chain now bears the name “Wkusno i totschka”: “Delicious and period”. It also has a new logo: two orange dashes and a red circle on a dark green background, meant to represent two fries and a burger patty.
Beyond that, however, as little as possible should change. The locations of the restaurants are the same, so are the staff and the menu is almost identical to McDonald’s. Only the burger “Filet-o-Fish” is now called “Fish Burger”, the hamburger “Royal” has become the “Grand” and the “Double Royal” the “Double Grand”.
McDonald’s is giving up business in Russia after more than 30 years
After more than 30 years, McDonald’s temporarily closed its Russian business 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 later finally withdrew from the largest country in the world in terms of area, where it was one of the most important 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.
Russian entrepreneur sees McDonald’s as a model for Russian success
The new owner, entrepreneur 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 the 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’s Mayor Sergey Sobyanin also came to Pushkin Square on this opening day – which symbolically coincides with the “Day of Russia” holiday. Sobyanin praises “Lecker und Punkt” as a Russian model for success.
McDonald’s has always been considered American, but actually “everything is ours, Russian,” he says, also referring to the Russian farmers from whom the US company used to get the ingredients for its branches in Russia. Politicians loyal to the Kremlin keep emphasizing that Western sanctions cannot harm Russia and that it will even emerge stronger. The new chain should prove that.
In the early 1990s, however, 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 stands for the hardened fronts between Moscow and the West.
The comeback in Russian garb also attracts many older people. You may have witnessed the opening of the very first Russian McDonald’s at this very location more than three decades ago, when the line was up to 500 meters long. Now the rush is less, some say.
Otherwise, 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 he doesn’t like the new logo that much – “but we’ll get used to it”.
“Delicious and point” – that sounds something like: Tastes good and that’s that, even in the Russian original. This makes some people smile, as the wording is reminiscent of Soviet gastronomy, which was not necessarily known for high service standards. What was on the table was eaten. And done.