Russians queue for copycat McDonald's as rebranded branches open with new logo

·4 min read

Watch: McDonald's branches reopen in Moscow under new name 'Tasty and that's it'

Huge crowds flocked for burgers and fries in Moscow at the reopened site of a former McDonald's.

The US fast food giant pulled out of Russia after the country's invasion of Ukraine, but it has been replaced with a new chain.

Although the new chain's restaurants across Russia still look very much like McDonald's, they are now under the name "Vkusno i Tochka", which translates as "Tasty and that's it".

The famous golden arches have been replaced with a logo made up of a red circle and two orange lines, said to represent a burger and chips.

A customer holds a dog while having a meal at the new restaurant
A customer holds a dog while having a meal at the new restaurant 'Vkusno & tochka', which opened on Sunday in Moscow following the exit of McDonald's from Russia. (Reuters)
A view shows a flag with the logo of the new restaurant
A flag with the logo of the new restaurant 'Vkusno & tochka', meaning 'Tasty and that's it', which has opened at former McDonald's sites in Moscow. (Reuters)
A view shows a tray with food and a drink at the new restaurant
The food on offer at the new Russian fast food that has replaced McDonald's. (Reuters)
An employee cooks fries at the new restaurant
An employee cooks fries at the new restaurant 'Vkusno & tochka', which opened in Moscow, Russia, on Sunday. (Reuters)

The Russian chain opened 15 new branches in the capital at the weekend, following McDonald's decision in May to leave the country.

There were large crowds at the new brand's flagship store in Moscow on Sunday, 30 years after long queues to visit the first McDonald's to open in Russia.

Read more: McDonald's to sell Russia restaurants to local operator

The queue was significantly smaller than the thousands of people who flocked to the original McDonald's opening there in 1990 during the Soviet era.

The new chain is owned by Alexander Govor, who operated 25 McDonald's restaurants in Siberia. An agreement allows McDonald's to retain its trademark in Russia and it also has an option to buy back its restaurants within 15 years.

People gather near the new restaurant
Hundreds gathered in Moscow on Sunday at the site of new restaurant 'Vkusno & tochka', which has replaced McDonald's. (Reuters)
Alexander Govor, owner of the new restaurant chain
Alexander Govor, owner of the new restaurant chain 'Vkusno & tochka', which has opened at former McDonald's site in Moscow, Russia. (Reuters)
People visit the new restaurant
People visit the new restaurant 'Vkusno & tochka' in Moscow, Russia, on Sunday. (Reuters)

The new branches opened as part of celebrations on Russia Day, a holiday celebrating national pride.

Items such as the Big Mac and the McFlurry are no longer available, but the chain has a "Grandee" burger and a new slogan: "The name changes, love stays".

Vkusno & tochka's menu was smaller and included a double cheeseburger and a fish burger.

The composition of burgers has not changed and the equipment from McDonald's has remained, said Alexander Merkulov, quality manager at the new company.

McDonald's closed its Russian restaurants in March and said in mid-May that it had decided to leave the country altogether, one of the most high-profile business departures since Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on 24 February.

Much of the packaging for fries and burgers was plain white, as were drink cups, while takeaway bags were plain brown. The old McDonald's logo on packets of ketchup and other sauces were covered over with makeshift black markings.

"We need to avoid a drop in quality, so that everything stays as it was before, because we loved McDonald's," said IT worker Sardana Donskaya, who also queued up 32 years ago.

An employee places burgers at the new restaurant
The Big Mac is no longer available at the former McDonald's site, but customers can order a 'Grandee' burger instead. (Reuters)
A woman stands next to a banner before the opening of the new restaurant
A woman stands next to a banner before the opening of the new restaurant 'Vkusno & tochka' in Moscow on Sunday. (Reuters)
People have a meal at the new restaurant
People have a meal at the new restaurant that has replaced McDonald's in Moscow. (Reuters)

Another customer, 15-year-old Sergei, said: "The taste has stayed the same. The cola is different, but there really is no change to the burger."

Vkusno & tochka plans to reopen 200 restaurants in Russia by the end of June and all 850 of the former McDonald's sites by the end of the summer.

Govor said it would look to launch something similar to McDonald's signature Big Mac.

"We don't have the right to use some colours, we don't have the right to use the golden arches, we don't have the right to use any mention of McDonald's," he said.

"The Big Mac is the story of McDonald's. We will definitely do something similar. We will try to do something even better so that our visitors and guests like this dish."

But after a news conference to announce the new chain, one man staged a protest, standing up in front of TV cameras with a sign that read: "Bring back the Big Mac". He was escorted out by restaurant staff.

Watch: Protester disrupts launch of Russia's 'new McDonald's'

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