It may resemble McDonald’s in appearance and scent, but it is now Vkusno & tochka. The golden arches are no longer there, and the Filet-O-Fish has been reduced to a fish burger. The Big Mac is no longer available in Russia.
On Sunday, a new era for Russia’s fast-food and economic scene began when McDonald’s stores in Moscow reopened under new Russian ownership and a new moniker, which translates to “Tasty and that’s it.”
More than three decades after the American burger behemoth first opened its doors in Moscow in a symbolic thaw between East and West, the unveiling of the redesigned shops is once again a striking sign of a new world order. On Russia Day, a celebration commemorating national pride, the reopenings took place.
The chain’s fortunes, which McDonald’s sold when it left the country due to the Ukraine crisis, could be a litmus test for Russia’s economy’s ability to become more self-sufficient and defy Western sanctions.
Hundreds of people lined outside what was formerly McDonald’s flagship restaurant in central Moscow’s Pushkin Square on Sunday. The restaurant had a new logo, which included a stylized burger with two fries, as well as a motto that read, “The name changes, love stays.”
The line was much less than the thousands of people who flocked to the first McDonald’s in the Soviet Union, which opened in 1990.
The menu at Vkusno & tochka was also reduced, with the Big Mac and certain other burgers and sweets, such as the McFlurry, being absent. A double cheeseburger cost 129 roubles ($2.31), compared to around 160 at McDonald’s, and a fish burger cost 169 roubles, compared to around 190 at McDonald’s.
According to Alexander Merkulov, quality manager at the new company, the burger composition has not altered and the equipment from McDonald’s has stayed.
McDonald’s shut down its Russian restaurants in March and announced in mid-May that it was leaving the country entirely.
Much of the packaging for fries and burgers was basic white, as were drink cups, and takeaway bags were plain brown, indicating the new owners’ rush to rebrand in time for the launch. Makeshift black markings were used to hide the former McDonald’s insignia on ketchup and other sauce sachets.
However, Sergei, a 15-year-old consumer, detected no difference.
“The taste hasn’t changed,” he added as he ate a chicken burger with fries. “The cola is different, but the burger hasn’t changed at all.”
Is there anything better than a Big Mac?
The flagship Moscow restaurant is one of 15 renamed locations that will open on Sunday in and around the capital. Vkusno & tochka CEO Oleg Paroev stated that the company plans to reopen 200 restaurants in Russia by the end of June and all 850 by the end of the summer.
“We didn’t work for three months,” Ruzanna, the manager of a Moscow office set to launch in July, explained. “Everyone is ecstatic.”
According to Paroev, who was appointed Russia McDonald’s CEO weeks before Moscow pushed tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24, the business would preserve its old McDonald’s interior but will remove any references to its prior name.
“Our goal is for our visitors to see no difference in quality or atmosphere,” Paroev said at a press briefing in the restaurant. He stated that the chain will maintain “cheap rates,” adding that prices would undoubtedly grow owing to inflation, but not at a higher rate than its competitors.
According to Reuters, the chain’s new owner, Siberian tycoon Alexander Govor, plans to develop a product akin to McDonald’s signature Big Mac.
“We don’t have the right to use certain colours,” he told Reuters. “We don’t have the right to use the golden arches, we don’t have the right to use any reference of McDonald’s.”
“McDonald’s is the story of the Big Mac. He stated, “We will surely do something similar.” “We’ll endeavour to outdo ourselves so that our visitors and guests enjoy this food.”
Govor said the company, which employs more than 50,000 people, will receive up to seven billion roubles ($125.56 million) in investment this year.
“First and foremost, the corporation requested that I maintain track of the headcount and offer employment for the employees. That’s exactly what he intends to do,” he added.
Govor said the corporation was seeking for new soft drink suppliers, such as Coca-Cola, which recently announced it was ceasing operations in Russia.
A man stood up in front of the cameras moments after the news conference ended, brandishing a sign that read “Bring back the Big Mac.” The restaurant workers led him out quickly.