The golden arches and Big Mac may have gone, but Russians saw 850 McDonald’s restaurants reopen on Sunday under new branding and ownership, according to its owner Alexander Nikolaevich Govor.
The company, which has Oleg Paroev serving as director general, 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 they were removing their businesses from Russia. I am very proud that they chose me to continue developing this business. That means the company views me as someone who fully shares all the principles of business and values of McDonald’s,” Govor said at a press conference.
“I won’t hide the fact that I am an ambitious man, and so I am not just going to simply open up all 850 restaurants but I am going to develop new ones as well,” he said.
The rebranding coincided with Russia Day, a holiday marking the country’s independence. It took place at the same location in Moscow’s Pushkinskaya Square, where McDonald’s opened its first Russian restaurant on January 31, 1990.
On the first day, 30,000 people were served – a McDonald’s record for an opening day, the CBC reported at the time. The location even had to stay open for hours later than planned because of the crowds.
“Approximately 32 years ago…there were a lot of people on Pushkinskaya Square, when the first McDonald’s franchise opened here in Russia. It caused quite the craze. I think the craze will be just as big with this new chain of restaurants, with a new owner, a real entrepreneur,” Alexei Alexeevich, the Head of the Department of Commerce of Moscow, said during a press conference on Sunday.
However, the chain decided to leave the country and sell its Russia business, in line with many other Western businesses following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which began in February.
McDonald’s accepted a charge of almost $1.4 billion after the sale to Govor, Reuters reported. Paroev has said other franchises could work under the new brand, but the traditional McDonald’s brand will leave the country.
Russia’s anti-monopoly service said the chain could elect to buy its restaurants in Russia back within 15 years, although many terms of the sale to Govor are still unclear, Reuters also reported.
“If the opening of McDonald’s in 1990 symbolized the beginning of a new era in Soviet life, one with greater freedoms, then the company’s current exit represents not just a closing down of business, but of society as a whole,” Darra Goldstein, Willcox B. and Harriet M. Adsit professor of Russian, emerita, 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 — what is supposed 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 guests are accustomed to.”
Although “Vkusno & Tochka” does not offer some of the most recognizable items on the McDonald’s menu – including a Big Mac – customers could still purchase a double cheeseburger for 129 roubles (about $2.30), compared with roughly 160 under McDonald’s, and a fish burger for 169 roubles, instead of about 190 rubles previously.
Despite the some of the menu changes, the composition of the burgers and the McDonald’s equipment remains the same, said Alexander Merkulov, quality manager at the new company.
“The taste has stayed the same,” 15-year-old Sergei, a customer, said as tucked into a chicken burger and fries. “The cola is different, but there really is no change to the burger.”