The American fast food giant has been renamed “Vkusno & Tochka”, which translates as “yummy and that’s it.”
The company, in which Oleg Barov serves as general manager, plans to open 200 branches by the end of June and all branches by the end of summer, according to a press release.
“If you remember, in May, McDonald’s announced that it was removing its business from Russia. I am very proud that they chose me to further develop this business. This means that the company views me as someone who fully shares all the business principles and values of McDonald’s, “said Gofor at a conference Journalist.
“I will not hide the fact that I am an ambitious man, and so I will not only open all 850 restaurants, but develop new ones as well,” he said.
According to a press release, 62,000 former McDonald’s employees were also retained.
“Almost 32 years ago … there were a lot of people on Pushkinskaya Square, when the first McDonald’s franchise was opened here in Russia. It caused quite a bit of madness. I think the madness will be just as crazy with this new chain of restaurants, with the owner New, a real businessman,” Alexey Alekseevich, head of the Ministry of Trade in Moscow, said during a press conference on Sunday.
McDonald’s later expanded its reach within the country and as of early March, there were about 850 locations operating in Russia.
However, the chain decided to leave the country and sell its business in Russia, in line with several other Western companies in the wake of 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 of greater liberties, the current exit of the company represents not just the closing of business, but society as a whole.” Dara Goldstein, Wilcox B. and Harriet M. Adsit Professor of Russian Language, Emeritus, at Williams College, was noted at that time.
The company’s new logo shared with CNN bears the “main symbols of the restaurant” – what are supposed to be two pieces of french fries and an orange burger. The green background symbolizes “the quality of products and services that guests are accustomed to,” CNN’s press office said.
Although Vkusno & Tochka doesn’t serve up some of the more popular items on the McDonald’s menu — including the Big Mac — customers can still buy a double cheeseburger for 129 rubles (about $2.30), compared to about 160 rubles at McDonald’s, and a fish burger for 169 rubles, instead of about 190 rubles previously.
Alexander Merkulov, director of quality at the new company, said that despite some changes in the menu, the composition of the burgers and McDonald’s equipment remains the same.
CNN’s Fred Blitgen was at the opening and spoke to Sergei Vlasov, a 19-year-old shepherd who wore a “Z” hat – a reference to a symbol used by Russian forces during the war in Ukraine.
Vlasov told CNN he didn’t think it was a contradiction to show his 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 that McDonald’s withdrawal from Russia was an “economic measure holding us back.”
“I see it as clear as day and I know what to do and I don’t mind it, I know it must be just because the rest of the world looks upon us as aggressors as we are, we have invaded a sovereign country by law.” “But also by law we have protected a nation that is fighting for its sovereignty, so there are a lot of issues right now… I’m just here to enjoy some good old McDonald’s, man.”
Another customer, Artem Kirienko, told CNN that his double cheeseburger from Vkusno & Tochka was “almost” the same as that served at McDonald’s.
“It’s not what I was expecting,” he said, adding that he plans to come to the restaurant at least once a week.
When asked if he thought the renamed series would satisfy Russian customers, he said, “It’s okay…in these difficult times.”
Kirienko’s wife, Yekatarina, said that although she is not a fan of McDonald’s, she was keen to try a hamburger from Fkosno & Toshka due to the novelty surrounding the renamed chain.
“It’s good to eat it, just to go and eat sometimes,” Yekatarina told CNN.
However, she said she was skeptical whether the new restaurant would live up to the expectations of its customers.
“I think we have to take a look at how it’s going to be, how it’s going to work, are people going to like it or not, and I think it’s not a good idea because McDonald’s is history, it’s a brand,” she said.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated how many McDonald’s restaurants reopened on Sunday. It was 15.
CNN’s Daniel Weiner Brunner, Chris Liakos, and Anna Chernova contributed to this report.
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