"The name may change, but the love stays": The first Russian McDonald's opened its doors on Sunday. This slogan was used in the nostalgic country for the American fast-food company, which had fled the country because of the conflict in Ukraine.
"Vkousno i totchka" ("Delicious. The brand's new name is "Point", which was unveiled in Moscow, Russia on Sunday before a hundred foreign and Russian journalists. The logo features two stylized orange fries with a red dot on green background.
Oleg Paroiev, the chain's general manager, stated that "we will do everything to ensure our customers don't notice any difference in atmosphere, taste, or quality."
It won't get worse, that's certain. Alexandre Govor, the new owner, said that he will make it even better. "We hope that customers will continue to increase, not decrease," he said. He said that the company is a Russian-owned entity, and this is why it has been growing.
McDonald's has been in Russia for over 30 years. It was the first Western country to open its doors for Russians. They were anchored in their daily lives, and their hearts. Russian restaurants made up around 9% of the turnover of the American company.
The Russians were not happy with the decision to suspend work at its 850 restaurants and 6,000 workers in March and to then leave the country in May due to the Russian offensive in Ukraine.
Elena, a programmer and mother to two children, said that her whole family had gone three times to McDonald's to have a farewell dinner. She smiles and says, "Now we're heading for a reunion lunch."
Numerous people gathered in front of Pushkin Square, the iconic restaurant in Moscow, to greet customers from Sunday morning.
Oleg Paroev said that 50 more restaurants will open Monday. The chain plans to then reopen 50-100 restaurants per week throughout the country.
The menu has the same selection as before: double and cheese cheeseburgers, wide variety of ice creams, desserts and the Filet-O-Fish. However, the Filet-O-Fish now goes by the Fishburger. The Royal Deluxe has been changed to Grand Deluxe, and McDo is no longer used on any names.
Oleg Paroiev explains that we had to take certain items off the menu as they are directly related to McDonald's such as McFlurry or Big Mac.
The Russian offensive on Ukraine has caused inflation to hit Russia hard. Prices have "increased slightly", but the general director at "Vkousno i totchka" says they are still "reasonable".
He explains that the packaging is neutral: "no letter, no word" should remind McDonald's.
Pushkin Square was the first McDonald's restaurant in the USSR. It opened in Moscow's center in January 1990. This was less than two years after the fall of the USSR. It is now a legend to see the huge queue outside the restaurant.
According to American figures, it is the most visited McDonald's in the world. It has received more than 140,000,000 customers in just 30 years, which is almost as many Russians.
Alexandre Govor, who had 25 restaurants in Siberia under the American group since 2015, purchased the McDonald's activities in May. He was co-founder of Neftekhimservice, an oil refining firm. He agreed to keep the 51,000 employees (111,000 of which are employees in restaurants under franchise) for a minimum of two years under similar conditions to what they were used to.
Novokuznetsk, South Siberia's 62-year old entrepreneur says he has "very ambitious goals" and wants to see his restaurants reach 1,000 by the end of five or six years.