A new era for Russia’s fast-food and economic scene dawned on Sunday, as McDonald’s restaurants flung open their doors in Moscow under new Russian ownership and with the new name, which translates as “Tasty and that’s it”.
Sergei, a 15-year-old customer, saw little difference though.
“The taste has stayed the same,” he said as he tucked into a chicken burger and fries. “The cola is different, but there really is no change to the burger.”
The unveiling of the rebranded outlets, more than three decades after the American burger giant first opened its doors in Moscow in a symbolic thaw between East and West, is once again a stark sign of a new world order. The reopenings took place on Russia Day, a holiday celebrating national pride.
The fortunes of the chain, which McDonald’s sold when it exited the country over the conflict in Ukraine, could provide a test of how successfully Russia’s economy can become more self-sufficient and withstand Western sanctions.
On Sunday, scores of people queued outside what was formerly McDonald’s flagship restaurant in Pushkin Square, central Moscow. The outlet sported a new logo — a stylised burger with two fries — plus a slogan reading: “The name changes, love stays.”
The queue was significantly smaller than the thousands of people who thronged the original McDonald’s opening there in 1990 during the Soviet era.
Vkusno & tochka’s menu was also smaller and did not offer the Big Mac and some other burgers and desserts, such as the McFlurry. A double cheeseburger was going for 129 roubles ($2.31) compared with roughly 160 under McDonald’s and a fish burger for 169 roubles, compared with about 190 previously.
The composition of burgers has not changed and the equipment from McDonald’s has remained, said Alexander Merkulov, quality manager at the new company.
McDonald’s closed its Russian restaurants in March and said in mid-May that it had decided to leave the country altogether.
In a sign of the haste the new owners have had to rebrand in time for the launch, much of the packaging for fries and burgers was plain white, as were drink cups, while takeaway bags were plain brown. The old McDonald’s logo on packets of ketchup and other sauces were covered over with makeshift black markings.