The first branch of the revamped Russian McDonald’s is opening on Sunday after the US fast food chain exited the country and sold its Russian business. Fifteen branches will open in Moscow and the surrounding area under a new name and logo but in the same locations, with the same staff and almost identical menu items on offer.
After more than 30 years, McDonald’s shut down its Russian business in March in reponse to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
The chain had more than 62,000 local employees in the country. Some individual restaurants at airports and train stations will continue to operate under the McDonald’s US logo for the time being due to special franchise agreements that are not easily terminated.
The new owner is Alexander Govor, who has served as a licensee operating 25 McDonald’s restaurants in Siberia since 2015.
Govor purchased all 825 further McDonald’s locations across the country and says he plans to reopen all of them within two months.
The McDonald’s comeback has generated much discussion on Russian social media in recent days. The state-run newspaper Rossiskaya Gazeta dedicated a whole page to the “Russian McDonald’s.”
The high level of interest in the topic is partly down to McDonald’s having a historical significance in the country. The opening of the first branch of the chain in the 1990s was a sign of change in the country and queues of customers 500 metres long formed outside.
The closures of the McDonald’s branches was seen as equally symbolic for the stark escalation in tensions between the West and Moscow.
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