First McDonalds Rest in Russia, 20 Years Ago

McDonalds in Russia 1

Around 20 years ago McDonalds got a permission from the Communist Party of Soviet Union to open its first rest in Soviet Russia. It was not only the first McDonalds but generally the first fast food place in Russia ever. People from all over the Russia when visiting Moscow wanted to visit this “pearl of the capitalism” so there were literary a few mile long lines of the visitors to this place.

McDonalds in Russia 2

McDonalds in Russia 3

McDonalds in Russia 4

Also around the same time Pepsi started its sales exclusively in Russia, there were no any other cola or even some soft-drink of any other foreign origin. The number of points of sale was also limited and also because of that there were long lines to each.

McDonalds in Russia 5

McDonalds in Russia 6

112 thoughts on “First McDonalds Rest in Russia, 20 Years Ago”

    • Good God what horrible thing to visit upon Russian people.
      Great American poison factory.

      Probably should be better if they open Tony Roma Steak House or Olive Garden Italian restaurant instead of disgusting
      fast food, or at least Pizza Hut.

      McDonald’s kills million people in America every year from heart attacks and Pepsi-Cola not far behind.

      I think this was probably American plan to destroy health of Russian people one hamburger at a time and I am very sorry and embarassed to see it is still in existence.

      • You’re right, Jeffery. It was a brilliant plan concocted by Col. Sanders, Ron MacDonald, Jack from the Box & the King…and it is working. Now, if you will kindly eat there every day we won’t have to hear any more rubbish from you. Cheers!

      • people should take care of their own eating habit. those restaurants are just merely choices of dinning. well, if people do so, then they stand against the interests of the corporation heads. ha.

    • Despite some rather obvious things one could say about the USA, I’d prefer to live in a country where a person can voluntarily choose to NOT go into a McDonalds than one with a giant oppressive dictatorship which will limits personal freedoms.

      I am the only person who finds it terribly sad and infuriating that people had to wait in long lines for anything? If there is one thing we’ve learned from the horrible utopian experiments of 20th century, it’s that small oligarchies cannot meet the supply and demand needs of a large economy.

  1. If you ever have the chance to visit Russia or Ukraine stop in a McDonalds and you will notice three things that are not present in the USA:
    1) The food is fantastic! Not the grey nasty stuff they serve in the USA as the food actually has a good flavor!
    2) The restaurant will be super clean and spotless.
    3) The workers are so friendly and will actually take time to greet the children and perhaps give them a balloon.

    • You will also notice that:

      1) Condiments such as ketchup and dipping sauces are not free.

      2) There are no free refills on drinks

      3) They are really stingy with the provision of napkins

      4) Like almost every other in Russia they really don’t understand the concept of ‘background’ music, instead you will probably end up listening to some type of gangsta rap at extreme volume.

      5) People will remain at a table LONG after they are finished with their meal and talk.

      6) It is perfectly acceptable to share a table with a stranger. One can meet some very nice people this way!

      • That’s all true! 😉
        I always ask for some extra napkins while ordering.
        Also, speaking about free ketchup, the liquid soap in WCs is free, but once in the mid-90’s I saw a man squeezing all the soap into his plastic bag and taking it away $)))

      • In Germany we have free refill, not in every McD, but they are going to make it possible in every McD, its coming here with the McCafe they put in mostly everyone of their “Restaurants”
        And the sauces here are also for free.

      • I remember waiting in that line. Not sure how long did we wait, but it was considerable amount of time – maybe 30min maybe 1hour. I remember having clear cola in the restaurant. I think it was that famous Crystal Pepsi. Never had a chance to try it again. Although it is still possible to buy some of it on Ebay. Food was very interesting. I was amazed how soft and tender hamburger bun was.

      • I remember waiting in that line in the early 90s. Not sure how long did we wait, but it was considerable amount of time – maybe 30min maybe 1hour. I remember having clear cola in the restaurant. I think it was that famous Crystal Pepsi. Never had a chance to try it again. Although it is still possible to buy some of it on Ebay. Food was very interesting. I was amazed how soft and tender hamburger bun was.

      • looking at number 6 it is perfectly acceptable to share a table with a stranger. I also noticed when I traveled by train, it was also perfectly acceptable to share a kupe with a stranger.

        What about sharing hotel rooms? Or rooms on river cruises? Picnic tables?

      • At least one McDonald’s in Chisinau, Moldova has beer on the menu (though I’m not a drinker).

        Also, the customers are primarily the wealthier people in the city; the parking lot will regularly be full of new Mercedes and BMW’s (in a city where most don’t even have a car).

        Prices were just slightly cheaper than in the States if I remember correctly.

      • In Mexico we also have free refill in most of the fast food restaurants and ketchup and muztard are always free.

        when I lived in Budapest and travelled through Europe I couldnt belive i had to pay for extra condiments!

    • The last time I ate at McDonalds was about 10yrs ago. I will take your word that the fod tastes better. Although, my brother in law says the burgers taste better in Russia than USA. During my first visit to St. Petersburg in 2003 I used the public rest room at one of the McDonalds near Nevsky Prospect. The only difference about the appearance of the restaurant was that it was three stories and no play area for the children, other than that it looked very similar. I am not intrested in eating American fast food in Russia. However, there are good Sushi restaurants in SPB.

      • There is only one country in the world where McDonald’s lose to local competition – The Philippines. Jollibee, the local chain (with presence in many countries), captures the majority chunk of the marketshare in fastfood in the country. Oh yeah, the Philippines is the only McDonald’s country in the world that serves spaghetti in its menu. But the chicken nuggets are better. There are no soda refills, ketchup refill is allowed, and basically just another middle-class destination. The rich send their chauffers to McDonald’s or Jollibee though to wait while they dine in restaurants that serve actual food. 🙂

        • No buddy,you’re wrong.
          There are,at least,TWO countries in the world where McDonald’s lose to local competition – The Philippines and Brazil.
          Here in Brazil,we have our local fast food chains,like Habib’s (which serves arab food),Bob’s,Giraffas and others.
          Here in my hometown (Natal,Rio Grande do Norte province) we have a local fast chain called Pittsburg.And,let me tell you,it’s way more sucessful than McDonald’s.

          • Well,as I said,Habib’s cuisine is very similar to that of McDonald’s,but it has an arab flavour.
            All the others offer the same kind of american fast food,just like McDonald’s.
            Pittsburg is the most sucessful fast food chain in my province and it’s now starting to spread to the neighbouring states.So,it’s still a local phenomenom.
            But the other ones are well stablished all over Brazil.

            I guess we have joined the exclusive club then!:)

            I wonder if it’s also happening somewhere.

  2. What i noticed this summer:
    1. The Menus are bigger then in Germany.
    2. Its always at every time full of people there.
    3. They take your order when you are in the row, and give you a paper with a number for your order so they only need to type in this number to see your order.
    4. Everyone shares the table, nobody in Germany would even think of sharing it, its not possible here.
    5. The food is warm! =-O

  3. @greg & @Steam McQueen

    You guys have done a great job of selling it. In the McD is slop I wouldn’t feed my dogs and it is indeed served by big fat spotty orcs that couldn’t care less about the customer.

    • Thats the effect of Russian ‘democracy’. Everybody for himself at the expense of the rest. If they can get away with it. And even if they can’t they will try – it’s like a reflex. I don’t like my country anymore – it’s become hostile, more xenophobic than ever and greediness is present everywhere. Corruption and lies are in charge or so it seems. The simple citizen is the victim, as always.

  4. Pepsi was being sold in the USSR since 1972. ER needs to check the facts more often.

    “In Russia, Pepsi once had a larger market share than Coca-Cola. However, Pepsi’s dominance in Russia was undercut as the Cold War ended. In 1972, Pepsico company struck a barter agreement with the then government of the Soviet Union, in which Pepsico was granted exportation and Western marketing rights to Stolichnaya vodka in exchange for importation and Soviet marketing of Pepsi-Cola.”

  5. Here’s a pic of me at McDonald’s in Moscow taken in Summer of 2006…

    I love how they write McDonald’s in Cyrillic. It seems so alien.

    • How did you find your trip to Moscow in general? What were your likes and dislikes?

      It is fascinating to hear reviews of Moscow, and Russia in general, from western tourists because of different mentality and perspectives. I would really like to hear your views.

      • Boris,

        Oh man! Where to begin! Russia was AMAZING!

        It truly is an alien place to the average American or Westerner for that matter. It definitely had a European feel to it, but because of Russia’s location, it also had an Eastern flare. The churches to me looked like Taj Mahals (like one would find in India) because of their onion shaped, almost mosque-like domes.

        The alphabet also was a constant reminder that I had landed on some alien planet that was almost like my world but slightly off with backwards R’s and N’s and also crazy letters I’ve never seen before! However, by the end of the summer I learned to read and sound out words.

        The food was also like none I’ve ever had. I enjoyed Pel’menis, Kvass, and of course Shashlik. We visited Kazakhstan too, because my sister’s husband is Kazakh. I sampled Kazakh cognac and along with Russian vodka, got totally schnockered up in the mountains outside of Shymkent.

        I was able to visit Russia mainly because of my sister, who works for the U.S. State Department. She was on her first tour of duty in Moscow at the U.S. Embassy. She lived in Moscow for two years. She got all the paperwork together on her end. I got a Russian visa from the Russian consulate here in Houston, TX. After that was all squared away, I was off to Russia!

        I would love to go back one day.

        • I am glad you enjoyed your trip. Russia is certanlly like no other place on earth. It is unique to the point of being weird.

          Were there any negative aspects or experiences?

          • Negative experiences:

            During our sidetrip to St. Petersburg, we were in a gypsy cab (a car that is driven by a regular person who gives a ride for some rubles). My sister, who speaks Russian, was talking to the driver in rather annoyed tones because he seemed to be saying something she was uncomfortable with. She then said to us all in English (me, my mother, and my sister’s husband) that we should all get out of the car at the next stoplight. We didn’t question her because she seemed perturbed with the driver. The cabbie obviously didn’t understand English so was oblivious to our plan. At the next stoplight, my sister said okay… NOW! and we all got out of the car at the same time.

            The driver started yelling and cursing at us in Russian. We just walked away briskly down the sidewalk. I asked my sister what was wrong and she said that he was trying to rip us off and was lying about there being construction and he would have to take “the long way” so to get more money. My sister had been in the area that he said construction was occuring just earlier that day because she was working at the G8 summit.

            We turned around and saw the gypsy cab driver was getting out of his cab and FOLLOWING us! Everyone was honking at him cuz the light had turned green and he wasn’t in his car anymore. He yelled in Russian to Erlan, my sister’s husband, who also speaks Russian because he is from Kazakhstan, “I will Destroy your balls!!!!”

            Erlan and I turned and started walking back to him and he got back into his cab. I guess we outnumbered him. I dunno. He then yelled to us that if he ever saw us again he was gonna run us over. This was all in Russian of course, my sister explained to me later what had transpired.

            That was really the only bad experience I had.

            My sister’s last year in Russia was a little trying because Erlan, who is an ethnic Kazakh was riding his bike down Bolshaya Ordinka and was attacked by some Russian guys who were obviously racists. They said to him “why don’t you try some kung fu on us” because Erlan looks very asian, being from Kazakhstan and all…

            Those were the only two incidents that I can think of that were negative other than my sister being followed around because she was an American that worked at the U.S. embassy…

        • Wackyruss,

          Did you have a chance to visit St. Petersburg? If not you should take the time to visit this wonderful city next time you go to Russia. My wife and I have friends that reciently moved to Houston from Khabarovsk, we plan to visit this region next summer.

          • I would advice him to visit Odessa, especially the old town. It is a beautiful place penetrated with history and culture. It is also a place where free liberal thinking was Born and where Intelligentsia and the Intellectuals had their first debates and battles.

            For me it is a place where every brick, every tree, every step has a story to tell. Story that in some way is connected to me and my ancestors. It is a place that has granted Jewish community an oasis in the desert hate and repression. It is a place where I know my real friends are. It is a place which I treasure deeply in my heart. And it a place which I remember in the moments of sorrow.

            Odessa… Odessa!

            • Odessa is indeed great. The Jewish population used to be the biggest in E-Europe, after the holocaust they were almost completely wiped out.

              • Even after the Holocast Odessa Jewish population was still near enough 30%. But then of course came the 70s and it was reduced to 4 or 5%. However now, funny enough, some memebers of Jewish community are coming back and the numbers are reaching the 7% mark.


                (Sorry couldn’t find the proper census)

            • I would love to visit the Ukraine- and Odessa especially!

              You remind me of the Eugene Hutz’s character Alex from Everything is Illuminated. He goes on and on how Odessa is much like Miami and is a beautiful tropical city on a beach.

          • Houston eh?

            You guys are from Houston? Cool!

            I’m in Houston at the moment!

            I did go to St. Petersburg. My sister was working there for the G8 Summit in the summer of 2006.

            It was equally amazing to Moscow. We visited the Hermitage museum, saw a ballet at the Mariinsky Theatre, and saw the FEEL YOURSELF RUSSIAN! folk music show. All of these events were highly enjoyable and culturally enriching.

            We toured several cathedrals including St. Isaac’s (which looked like the State Capital of Texas to me…) and The Peter and Paul Fortress.

    • I really try to avoid McDonalds like the plague but I remember the only drinks that had free refills was beer (in Spain). Another thing is, in the United States we throw away our own garbage at fast food restaurants, in Spain for example, you leave the garbage at a table and the employees will throw away your trash.

  6. This junkfood dont give Yoda,

    by the way,drinks are free for refill in Germany,table sharing is also for free but some customers eat like a pig so they also leave the table as a pig.In the last time everywere where a McDonalds Restaurant ist there is also a BurgerKing in tthe near area,how is it in Russia?Lets talk about the prices:
    simpel BigMac=3,05€,FischMac=2,50 🙁

    @Boris Abramov,russia must be fantastic,i never was there butt i met a lot of russian people during my holiday´s in

  7. Here is a photo of a McDonald’s I took while in Cheboksary. It is the largest McDonald’s I have ever seen.

  8. It’s interesting to read opinions about McDonald’s. Despite the jokes and criticism, their restaurants are almost always full. The corporation as a whole had a very good year and saw another surge in growth, despite setbacks in recent years.

    Once when I was in Germany my friend’s wife went on and on about how much better European food was than American food, and how much she despised American fast food, etc., etc. Then when we were visiting in Heidelberg I passed “Mickey D’s” and had a craving for a Quarter Pounder with cheese. My statement that I was going into McDonald’s was met with scorn, but when I asked if they wanted anything, they all placed orders! Then I had to stand in a long line, with very few Americans. 🙂

    I try to avoid fast-food in general, but I went to McDonald’s in Russia, Romania, Moldova, and other places out of curiosity. I have to say I had good service and decent food in all of them.

    I think the arrogance of our society here in the US has made it almost “shameful” for someone to work at McDonald’s or other fast-food places. I hate that. I remember when it was still considered honorable to start “at the bottom” in the USA if you had to, and work toward something better. I still consider it honorable. I think the people who work in places like McDonald’s in non-US markets still see it that way, too, and I hope it pays off for all of them.

    Sorry, a little bit of a tangent there.

    • yes, I live in Germany and I have also wondered why McDonalds seems to have such a bad reputation in USA. For example I have recently seen a photo, where a High School Teacher symbollicaly pinned a McDonalds Job Application Form to a corrected Examination (F) of one of his pupils.

      I think, if some Teacher did the same in Germany, everybody would laugh at him, because he would be seen as a “wanna-be” and “snob”.

      A Job at McD or at B-King is not seen as something shameful in Germany. In larger Cities you can meet here very beautiful Girls at the counters. Eating at McDonalds is seen as something normal and it isn’t seen as “white trash convention” like perhaps in USA.
      I really like the way it is in Germany. It has perhaps something to do with the phenomenon, that even “wealthy” people who can afford big cars and an exceptional Lifestyle don’t mind to drop by McD Drive-in or buy food at “Aldi” discounter shop.

  9. Back in the early 90’s I did some construction work for a guy who was one of the McDonalds execs who got the restaurant into the country while it was still communist. He said the strangest difference between our two countries was how they stood in line. Once inside the restaurant, there were a lot of cash registers, each with their own line. But the Russians would always get in the longest one because they figured that’s where the good food was.

  10. The first McDonalds in Russia was actually open in 1990, on January 29 or 30 (so, the headline about 20 years is wrong). I was there on the second or third day-I had to wait in line about 1.5 hours.

    • You are correct. It was on Pushkinskaya Street. I remember because I lived in the house abouve for some time.

      The house itself was an elite accommodation for top Aeroflot personnel. My uncle was one of these people. When my father went away on business (Komandirivka), my uncle was happy to take me. As a kid I spend a lot of evenings looking ouside with my binoculars from one of these windows.

  11. I like your attitude. You must go to visit my good friend Hugo Chavez. He have the nice fat “McDonald’s” head, but he also have the big sexy chest and very much fashionable red shirt, always.

  12. As an American myself (by that I mean I am a citizen of the U.S.A), I find it much easier to say ‘I’m an American’ rather than to say, ‘I’m a United States of America-ian’. Also, you are not just as American as an American as defined by most English dictionaries. The first definition equates ‘American’ as inhabitants of the United States of America. The second definition defines inhabitants of north and south America. You’re number 2, as usual, USA is number 1.

    Anyway, I completely agree with you about everything else you said.

  13. As an American myself (by that I mean I am a citizen of the U.S.A), I find it much easier to say ‘I’m an American’ rather than to say, ‘I’m a United States of America-ian’. Also, you are not just as American as an American as defined by most English dictionaries. The first definition equates ‘American’ as inhabitants of the United States of America. The second definition defines inhabitants of north and south America. You’re number 2, as usual, USA is number 1.

    Anyway, I completely agree with you about everything else you said.

    • that because the rest of North America wants to pretend you not there, and they are not any ware near you, for they are embarrassed.

  14. What the U.S. is “use to” is continuously attempting to dominate Central and South America. All of the pants wetting is happening in Washington over the decline of U.S. influence.

  15. Maybe so but they very nice hosts to the little Nazi doctor and his war crime friends who need a place to stay when they escape Europe after the war.

    • But Argentina would not play host to Mohammad Reza Pahlavi when he needed a place to stay. Good ol’e Jimmy had to take him in.

  16. The funny thing about Russian McDonalds is that u can drink alcohol (vodka, beer) there. No they dont sell it but u can bring it with u, wrap it in a paper bag and drink.
    I used to do it when I was young. Nobody has ever tried to stop me.

  17. last time I went to a McDonalds, was on my trip to Los Angeles, for business three years ago. Anyway after I had a McChicken burger with Supersize Fries and Coke, I got real bad ‘pins and needles’ and I couldn’t do anything for the rest of the day.

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  19. man, it was great!! I will never forget this and my first time at mcdonalds! In Moscow!
    In 1990, half year after the berlin wall came down, friends and I made a trip to russia (or ussr in this days), to moscow. it was exactly the time (july’90), when eastgermany got the big money-change from gdr-money to d-mark, so we still paid our tickets to moscow with gdr-mark – but our money for the trip was now hard d-marks … . what means, we got 8 rubel for 1 d-mark at that times. (look, in former gdr-times u got for 1 gdr-mark: 33 kopeki). lots of rubels in the pocket, we visit the bulgakow-house, where the devil resided in the 1920’s, the appartment, the roof of this house … on this roof we met young people like us, crazy, freaky, and we smoked our first weed with our new sovietsky friends … and I got a hunger-flash like nothing of it, also my first one :). our new friends told us, that they have mcDonalds in moscow since a year or so, but its expensiv, because the take a rubel like a dollar (I remember the prize of a 3-kg-bred was 70 kopeki a.t.t.). the prize of a big mac was also around 3 rubels … and we had changed 1 D-mark for 8 rubels … for us was it only: cheap. and yez: everybody of our new friends was now our guest, we were 8 or 10 peopl, waiting in the line for 1h, there were service-people on rollerblades, I can remember … and we made the huge bill of around 100 rubels! yea, it was a big “fressen”, I tell u!
    I was born in the gdr, I was a pionier and thingis like this, and my first expierence with the ultra-kapitalism I made in the motherland of the revolution of sozialism with so much money in the pockets like a kapitalist … in a mcdonalds fast food restaurant. great times. hope, everbody of this people we met in summer ’90 on the bulgakow-house-roof is still fine.

  20. McDonalds not the first fast-food in Russia. There were such places to eat like: “sosisochnaja” – sausage-restaurant, “pelmennaja” – pelmeni-restaurant (Siberian meat dumplings), “cheburechnaja” – cheburek-restaurant (kind of meat pasty eaten in the Crimea and the Caucasus), “blinnaja” – blin-restaurant (kind of pancake) and some others cafeterias 8)

  21. Bwahahahahaha..OMG i stood in that LINE!!!!!! Wow, memories, i went there the week it opened, and ACTUALLY to let everyone know, that line moved very fast…NEways, i dont care what pple say or think, im very proud of my culture and proud to be from the USSR…I moved to the states b4 it became RUSSIA….USSR was way more fun, everything was cheap and available (lines or not), not when i go back to visit, everything is super expensive and too capitalist from what i remember as a lil girl…

  22. I went to McD in Sydney, Australia in the ’90s. It was absolutely identical to McD. in Los Angeles, USA. Even the price was the same. I also went to a Kentucky Fried Chicken in Australia and they give you much larger portions of food than in the USA. I guess their Aussie chickens are larger….lol

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  24. Well, the article is really the freshest on this notable topic. I agree with your conclusions and also can thirstily look forward to your approaching updates. Saying thanks will not simply be enough, for the wonderful clarity in your writing. I will certainly promptly grab your rss feed to stay privy of any updates. Pleasant work and much success in your business efforts!

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  26. Pingback: No Free Refills | EuroKulture
  27. Best you should make changes to the page name title English Russia » First McDonalds Rest in Russia, 20 Years Ago to something more suited for your webpage you write. I enjoyed the post nevertheless.

  28. I got to Moscow biggest McD in 1992 feb, i was 15 years old. I came there from a little town in Ukraine and i was very impressed by the service. The staff was very friendly, polite and i saw the smiles…its 2010 and i still dont see any smiles on ukrainian faces, even in the expensive restaurants. what a shame. why don’t people learn simple things, I just don’t get it…

  29. A McDonalds restaurant in Istanbul. It is in bus stop. :))

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  31. Most people think the McDonald brothers of California started the fast-food craze in America, but in reality, it was the White Castle hamburger chain that actually started fast food history in America. J. Walter Anderson opened the first White Castle in 1916 in Wichita, Kansas, and people liked the cheap hamburgers, fries, and colas he offered. However, fast-food really didn’t become common in America until after World War II, when Americans first began to fall in love with their cars, and had leisure time and more money to spend on eating out.

  32. The real heroes of fast food history in America are Richard and Maurice McDonald, the two brothers who created the first McDonald’s restaurant in 1948 in San Bernardino, California. They wanted their restaurant to be more efficient and cost-effective, so they designed a simple menu in a small building without any tables, so people took their food and ate in their cars. By 1953, the brothers had decided to franchise their idea, and two franchises opened in Downey, California and Phoenix, Arizona.

  33. This will no doubt come as a shock to many Americans and in particular the MacDonalds Corporation who are under the delusion that they
    opened the first MacDonalds restaurant in
    Russia ( or should I say the Soviet Union ) in
    Moscow on the 31st January 1990.

    As I’m afraid that honour goes to the KGB who
    succesfully opened a number of MacDonalds restaurants in secret replica american towns
    in Russia & the USSR, dedicated to the training of KGB Sleepers or Illegals. Spies trained as
    secret agents who would pass as ‘all american US
    citizens and blend into the locations they work
    As revealed by CIA double agent Boris Korczak.
    See article:


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