McDonald’s restaurants have reopened in Russia, although they are no longer officially McDonald’s

McDonald's restaurants have reopened in Russia, although they are no longer officially McDonald's

If the relaunch of McDonald’s Russia-style succeeds, it will be proof that it can survive Western sanctions.Reuters photo

The name is new and so is the logo. Instead of the iconic M, it’s now a small circle and two lines that appear to represent a burger and fries. The food is also called by a different name, but the new CEO, Oleg Paroev, swears that diners won’t notice the difference between McDonald’s and Vkusno & totsjka, neither in quality nor in ambiance. The interiors remain the same, the staff are the same and the ingredients and recipes are the same as when it was called McDonald’s. The CEO himself is also the same: Baruev was appointed Russia manager by McDonald’s in early February, a few weeks before Russia invaded Ukraine.

In protest against the Russian invasion, McDonald’s decided to close all its restaurants in March, and in mid-May the group announced its complete withdrawal from Russia, following several Western companies. She sold all of her restaurants to Alexandre Joffre, the Siberian oil magnate who was already one of McDonald’s licensees. A condition of the sale was that the famous logo and all the names of the citizens and the typical “Mac” nuggets could no longer be used.

These names have changed, but the owner Govor has left everything exactly the same and promises that it will remain so: the presentation in restaurants will not change. Almost all components are produced in Russia itself, and will continue to be so.

Pushkin Square

One of the first Vkusno & totchka branches to open on Sunday was the one on Pushkin Square in Moscow. This was the first McDonald’s restaurant to open in 1990. At that time, the arrival of the American fast food group was considered a symbol of the eventual end of the Cold War. The fact that the restaurant closed after 32 years is seen as the end of the Thaw era.

The opening of Vkusno & Tchka will be a test of the resilience of the Russian economy, which must survive a mountain of stifling Western sanctions. If McDonald’s Russian-style restart succeeds, it’s proof that it can survive those sanctions.

The 15 reopened restaurants are just the beginning: 200 Vkusno & Tochkas should open by the end of June, and all 850 former McDonald’s restaurants in Russia should be up and running again by the end of summer.

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