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Delicious name but no Big Mac where renamed McDonald’s restaurants open in Russia


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June 12 (Reuters) – It may look and smell like McDonald’s, but it’s now Vkusno & tochka. The golden arches disappeared, and the fish fillet became just a fish burger. Big Mac left Russia.

A new era of fast food and the economic landscape dawned in Russia on Sunday with the advent of McDonald’s (MCD.N) Restaurants have opened their doors in Moscow with new Russian ownership and a new name that translates to “yummy and that’s it.”

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

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

On Sunday, dozens of people queued outside the main McDonald’s restaurant in central Moscow. The outlet carried a new logo – a signature burger with two fries – as well as a slogan that read: “Name changes, love stays.”

The queue was much smaller than the thousands of people who crowded when the original McDonald’s opened there in 1990 during the Soviet era.

Vkusno & tochka’s menu was smaller and did not offer a Big Mac and some other burgers. The price of a double cheeseburger was 129 rubles ($2.31), compared to about 160 rubles at McDonald’s, and a fish burger was 169 rubles, compared to about 190 rubles previously.

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Alexander Merkulov, director of quality at the new company, said that the composition of the burgers did not change and the equipment from McDonald’s did not change.

Sergey, a 15-year-old customer, saw little difference.

“It just tasted the same,” he said, tucked into a chicken burger and fries. “Cola is different, but really there is no change in the burger.”

big difference?

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

Baruev, who was named CEO of McDonald’s in Russia, weeks before Moscow sent tens of thousands of troops to Ukraine on February 24, said the chain would keep its old McDonald’s interior, but would delete any references to its former name.

“Our goal is that our guests don’t notice a difference in quality or ambiance,” Barov told a news conference at the restaurant. He said the chain would maintain “reasonable prices” but did not rule out slight hikes in the near term.

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

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“We haven’t worked for three months,” said Rosanna, director of the Moscow branch, which will open in July. “Everyone is very pleased.”

Up to 7 billion rubles ($125.56 million) will be invested this year in the company, which employs 51,000 people, said Alexandre Gufour, the new owner of the chain.

He added, “The company asked me, first of all, to keep the number of employees, to provide people with work. That’s what I will do.”

Gofour said the company was looking for new suppliers of soft drinks such as Coca Cola (KO.N)which said it would suspend its business in Russia.

Moments after the press conference ended, a man stood in front of the cameras holding a sign that read “Back the Big Mac”. Was quickly escorted by the restaurant staff.

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Reporting by Reuters. Edited by Praveen Shar

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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