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Tasty name, but no Big Mac renamed McDonald’s restaurants open in Russia

June 12 (Reuters) – It may look and smell like McDonald’s, but now it’s Vkusno & tochka. The golden bows are gone, the filet-of-fish is simply a fish burger. Big Mac has left Russia.

A new era for Russia’s fast food and economic scene began on Sunday when McDonald̵[ads1]7;s (MCD.N) restaurants opened their doors in Moscow under new Russian ownership and with the new name, which can be translated as “Tasty and that’s it”.

The rebranding of the outlets, three decades after the American burger giant first opened in Moscow in a symbolic thaw between East and West, is once again a strong sign of a new world order.

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The fortunes of the renewed chain, which McDonald’s sold when it left the country due to the conflict in Ukraine, can provide a test of how successful Russia’s economy can become more self-sufficient and withstand Western sanctions.

On Sunday, many people stood in line outside what was once McDonald’s flagship restaurant in central Moscow. The outlet had a new logo – a stylized burger with two french fries – plus a slogan that reads: “The name changes, the love remains”.

The queue was significantly smaller than the thousands of people who crowded to the original McDonald’s opening there in 1990 during the Soviet era.

Vkusno & tochkas menu was smaller and did not offer Big Mac and some other burgers. A double cheeseburger cost 129 rubles ($ 2.31) compared to about 160 under McDonald’s and a fish burger for 169 rubles, compared to about 190 previously.

The composition of burgers has not changed and the equipment from McDonald’s has remained, said Alexander Merkulov, quality manager in the new company.

Sergei, a 15 year old customer, saw little difference.

“The taste has remained the same,” he said while hiding in a chicken burger and french fries. “The cola is different, but there’s really no change in the burger.”


The flagship Moscow restaurant is among 15 rebranded outlets that initially open in and around the capital on Sunday. Oleg Paroev, CEO of Vkusno & tochka, said the company plans to reopen 200 restaurants in Russia by the end of June and all 850 by the end of the summer.

The chain will keep its old McDonald’s interior, but will delete all references to its former name, said Paroev, who was appointed Russia’s McDonald’s chief weeks before Moscow sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on February 24.

“Our goal is that our guests do not notice a difference in either quality or atmosphere,” Paroev said at a media conference in the restaurant. He said the chain would keep “reasonable prices”, but did not rule out small gains in the short term.

McDonald’s closed restaurants in Russia on March 14 and said in mid-May that it had decided to leave the market.

“For three months we did not work,” said Ruzanna, head of a Moscow branch opening in July. – Everyone is very happy.

Alexander Govor, the new owner of the chain, said that up to 7 billion rubles ($ 125.56 million) would be invested this year in the business, which employs 51,000 people.

“The company asked me first and foremost to keep the number of employees, to give people work. That’s what I’m going to do,” he added.

Govor said that the company was looking for new suppliers of soft drinks such as Coca Cola (KO.N), which has said that they will stop operations in Russia.

Moments after the press conference was over, a man stood in front of the cameras and held a sign that read “Bring back the Big Mac.” He was quickly escorted out by the restaurant staff.

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Reporting from Reuters; Editing Pravin Char

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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