Russia has relaunched McDonald’s without the Big Mac.
Over the weekend, more than a dozen outlets that were previously McDonald’s locations opened under new ownership and new branding.
The rebranded McDonald’s is now called “Vkusno & tochka,” which translates to “Tasty & that’s it.” On opening day, the crowds at the flagship restaurant in Pushkin Square, in central Moscow, were significantly smaller than the thousands who lined up for the original McDonald’s opening in 1990, reported Reuters. The rebranded outlets mark a new trend toward isolation, a reversal of what brought McDonald’s to the Russian market 32 years ago.
Vkusno & tochka has a new logo, a minimalistic depiction of a burger and two fries and a new slogan: “The name changes, love stays.”
The new chain cannot use McDonald’s logos or menu, and this “de-arching” shows how much control the fast-food company has over the new outlets despite its exit. McDonald’s, which has the second largest global fast food footprint said that the new owner, Alexander Govor, will be required to retain the chain’s some 60,000 employees for at least two years, along with other restrictions.
“We don’t have the right to use some colors, we don’t have the right to use the golden arches, we don’t have the right to use any mention of McDonald’s,” Gover told Reuters.
“The Big Mac is the story of McDonald’s. We will definitely do something similar,” he continued. “We will try to do something even better so that our visitors and guests like this dish.”
The menu has been slimmed down. Instead of the Big Mac, there is the Grandee (link in Russian). Instead of McFlurries, there is simply a milkshake (link in Russian). The packaging for fries and drinks are simple white containers. Some menu items are cheaper. The McDonald’s logo was covered over on ketchup packets and some other sauces with black markings, and takeaway bags are plain brown, suggesting how quickly the branding was changed. Restaurant interiors will be kept the same, but any references to McDonald’s will be removed.
Coca Cola products continue to be listed on the menu (link in Russian), but the company is reportedly looking for new soft drink suppliers since Coca Cola is suspending its sales in Russia. All but 2% of the chain’s ingredients are sourced within Russia, reported Reuters.
In May, the fast-food giant announced that it would leave Russia in the wake of the Russian-Ukraine war. McDonald’s sold its Russian business, which makes up 2% of its global footprint, to Govor, a Siberian business owner who made his wealth co-owning a coal mining company in his hometown, selling that and investing in an oil company. Since 2015, he has been a McDonald’s franchisee with 25 restaurants in Siberia. He reportedly paid “far lower than market prices” for the 850 McDonald’s locations in Russia. Gover may have also received help from sanctioned bank Sovcombank, BBC Russia reported.
Vkusno & tochka said it plans to reopen 200 restaurants in Russia by the end of June and all 850 by the end of September.