McDonald’s replacement restaurants are unveiled in Russia
The American fast food giant has been renamed “Vkusno & Tochka”, which translates to “Tasty and that’s it”.
The company, of which Oleg Paroev is the general manager, plans to open 200 branches by the end of June and all branches by the end of the summer, according to a press release.
“If you recall, in May McDonald’s announced that it was withdrawing its business from Russia. I am very proud that they chose me to continue to develop this business. It means that the company sees me as someone one that fully shares all of the business principles and values of McDonald’s,” Govor said at a press conference.
“I will not hide that I am an ambitious man, and therefore I will not just open the 850 restaurants, but also develop new ones,” he said.
According to a statement, 62,000 former McDonald’s employees have also been retained.
“About 32 years ago…there were a lot of people in Pushkinskaya Square when the first McDonald’s franchise opened here in Russia. It caused a real buzz. I think the buzz will be just as big with this new chain of restaurants, with a new owner, a real entrepreneur,” Alexei Alexeevich, head of Moscow’s Commerce Department, told a news conference on Sunday.
McDonald’s then expanded its reach in the country, and by early March there were about 850 sites operating in Russia.
However, the chain decided to leave the country and sell its business in Russia, like many other Western companies following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began in February.
“If the opening of McDonald’s in 1990 symbolized the beginning of a new era in Soviet life, an era with more freedoms, then the current exit of the company represents not only the closing of the company, but of the society as a whole,” said Darra Goldstein, Willcox. B. and Harriet M. Adsit Professor of Russian, Emeritus, at Williams College, noted at the time.
The company’s new logo shared with CNN has “the main symbols of the restaurant” depicted on it – which is believed to be two sticks of yellow fries and an orange burger. The green background, the press office told CNN, symbolizes “the quality of products and service that customers are used to.”
Although “Vkusno & Tochka” doesn’t offer some of McDonald’s more recognizable menu items – including a Big Mac – customers could still buy a double cheeseburger for 129 rubles (about $2.30), up from about 160 under McDonald’s, and a fish burger for 169 rubles, instead of about 190 rubles previously.
Despite some menu changes, McDonald’s burger composition and equipment remain the same, said Alexander Merkulov, quality manager of the new company.
CNN’s Fred Pleitgen was at the opening and spoke with Sergey Vlasov, a 19-year-old patron who wore a “Z” hat – a reference to a symbol used by Russian troops during the war in Ukraine.
Vlasov told CNN he doesn’t think it’s a contradiction to show support for Russian forces in Ukraine while eating American-style fast food.
“Food and politics have nothing in common,” he said.
Vlasov said he believed McDonald’s withdrawal from Russia was “an economic measure that is holding us back.”
“I see it as clear as day and I know what to do and I don’t mind it, I know that’s the way it has to be because the rest of the world sees us as aggressors that we are, we have invaded a sovereign state of law,” he added. “But also by law, we have protected a nation that is fighting for its own sovereignty, so there are a lot of problems right now… I’m just here to enjoy a good ol’ McDonald’s, man.”
Another customer, Artem Kirienko, told CNN his double cheeseburger from Vkusno & Tochka was “almost the same” as those served at McDonald’s.
“It’s not what I expected,” he said, adding that he plans to come to the restaurant at least once a week.
When asked if he thought the rebranded chain would satisfy Russian customers, he replied, “It’s fine… for these tough times.”
Kirienko’s wife, Yekatarina, said that although she was not a fan of McDonald’s, she wanted to try a burger from Vkusno & Tochka because of the newness surrounding the renowned chain.
“It’s nice to have it, just to go eat sometimes,” Yekatarina told CNN.
However, she says she is skeptical whether the new restaurant will live up to its customers’ expectations.
“I think we should look at how it would be, how it will work, will people like it or not, I think it’s not a good idea because McDonald’s is a story, it’s a brand,” she said.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated how many McDonald’s restaurants had reopened on Sunday. He was 15.
CNN’s Danielle Wiener-Bronner, Chris Liakos and Anna Chernova contributed to this report.