The Russians lined up at a train station in Moscow on Tuesday to discuss what could be their last Big Mac key from a few McDonald’s restaurants still open in the country.
The world’s largest burger chain has been shutting down shutters in Russia for more than 30 years, becoming one of the largest global brands left behind by Moscow’s move in Ukraine.
McDonald’s departure marks the end of a chapter in the history of the American company that began when it began serving burgers in Russia as a symbol of American capitalism.
The company has already decided to temporarily close its restaurants in the country in March. They include the location of the iconic Pushkin Square in central Moscow, which broke the world record when it opened on January 31, 1990, as more than 30,000 people lined up around the block for the Big Mac, costing 3 rubles.
“McDonald’s now operates in several locations,” said Irina, 32, who was lined up at a branch of Moscow’s Leningradsky station, from where trains head north to St. Petersburg. “I miss McDonald’s, so when I go to St. Petersburg, I go to the Big Mac.”
McDonald’s plans to sell 84% of its 850 restaurants in Russia to local buyers. The future of the remaining restaurants run by the franchise is unclear.
New owners will not be allowed to use McDonald’s name, logo, branding and menus. This has worried some Russians that quality will suffer.
“I read yesterday that McDonald’s is closing soon and opening a new name, so I rushed here today to buy my favorite cheeseburger, milkshake and chips,” said Alla, 21. “What if the quality is bad after rebranding?”
Franchised restaurants remain open, and business has grown since McDonald’s closed its outlets.
“We see improved demand in accessible locations in the center of Moscow and St. Petersburg,” the franchisee Rosenter Restaurant said Tuesday.
McDonald’s will retain its trademark in Russia, which analysts say has left the door open for return. Meanwhile, restaurants will begin reopening in June under new ownership and branding, a source close to the company said.
250KM driving for MCDONALD’s
In southern Russia and Siberia, some franchised outlets are still doing business.
A man in southern Russia drove two and a half hours to find an open restaurant, he said in an online review posted on April 21 on Yandex.
“I came to this McDonald’s, especially from Samara, only 250 km,” the user wrote. “I remembered the environment and happily dived into it.
“The food and burgers are just as delicious and tasty,” he said. “Thank you for being relatively close.”
The burger chain came as a symbol of melting the Cold War, and was a way for millions of Soviets to sample Western food and culture, even though the price of a burger was several times higher than the daily budget of many townspeople.
“There is nothing to be afraid of standing in a line for a while, if anyone remembers how long we stood in the 90’s,” said Ivan Tumanov, 45, waiting in line at Leningradsky station. West. “
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)