First McDonalds in Soviet Union: Biggest Launch Event in the World



On this day, but twenty five years earlier, on January 30th of 1990 the first McDonalds eatery opened in Moscow. It was also the first one in the whole country – in the Soviet Union. They say they were holding talks with Soviet officials about opening this venture for over 20 years – since 1976. Also, they offered 51% ownership of the venture to the Soviet state. Then, on the first day, they were expecting 1,000 people to come to the new place. How many people actually came to taste American food? 30,000 people arrived on the first day, making it the largest restaurant launch worldwide, ever. Thanks to Russian blogger Sergey we’ve got over 30 photos from this event, where the line of people was a few miles long! Let’s see inside:




At first, before opening the restaurant, McDonalds started building a factory to produce the buns and other ingredients. So in 1989 it was ready and over 50 million dollars had been invested in it.



Then they started constructing the restaurant itself. Canadian managers of McDonalds were key figures in making this happen, so they were coming to Moscow in person to see how the construction was going.





It was the largest McDonalds in the world at the time of the construction and even today remains the largest one in Europe.

You can click on any photo if your secret passion is seeing old Soviet photos of McDonalds in widescreen!





One year earlier, there was just a regular Soviet cafe on the place of the future McD.



And now the brand new place was ready to open the doors to the public.




But before that, there was a hiring event. Over 35,000 people applied for a job in what would be the first ever foreign restaurant in the Soviet Union, and around 600 people were accepted.




Moscow’s top authorities had a stake in the venture so they came to greet the workers.




Mounting the sign.


So there was a grand opening





Even Yeltsin arrived at the launch on the first day.





And a queue a few miles long of people wanting to try something new.015


You see the people line up around the park, all the way to the horizon.



Crazy amount of people.020 20150123-003


The people outside were looking at the happy ones inside.002_001


This for sure beats any Apple product launch event queue.009 0010 013


The cost of a hamburger was $1.50, which was roughly 1.50 roubles when an average salary was 150 roubles. You could buy ten loaves of bread for this money. 003_002 005 008 014   003_001  010 20150123-014  20150123-009         20150123-012

22 thoughts on “First McDonalds in Soviet Union: Biggest Launch Event in the World”

  1. “It was the largest McDonalds in the world at the moment of the construction and even today stays the largest one in Europe.”

    Mr Putin has said very clearly that Europe is not Russia.

    I agree.

    • Geographically, Russia is in Europe and Asia, and you can clearly say that this McDonald’s is in the European part of Russia. Your comment doesn’t make so much sense…

      • Well, there are always two definitions. One is fixed – that is the geographical. The other is always “movable” according to which politicians and what for they need this definition.

        For example – all countries that are to the east from the “East Germany” politically are called the Eastern Europe, even today.

        • Yes. Unfortunately. Average Englishman does not differentiate between Slovenia/Slovakia, Czech/Chechen, Czechoslovakia/Yugoslavia etc.
          But, let us be optimistic – the same product of Thatcherist education confuses Belgium with France and generally thinks that anything across the Channel is nothing but wild, poor, unwashed and uneducated criminal masses eager to flood The White Cliffs of Dover.

    • Soviets went crazy not for burgers but for western lifestyle. As for me McDonalds burger is not delicious food. But it was a piece of another civilization.

  2. Good old Micky D’s… What an event it must have been.

    Today of course there are many McDs in Russia. I am saddened that Carl’s Jr. has pulled out of the country- IMO they offer a far better burger- and they don’t charge for things like ketchup and drink refills!

  3. You should understand that it is not the burger russians were so crazy about, it was the myth about the other world behind the iron curtain. In my opinion american food is just trash, nobody should consume.

  4. Such a mistake to let western mobsters invade USSR through the small door or in a “benevolent” way. If not for scams like this maybe moron Gorbachev and mobster Yeltsin would have never gotten the chance to destroy USSR. I wonder how much money Yeltsin received as a incentive to be the lobbist of these social saboteurs. In a country where loaf of bread costed 0.15 rubles no one was hungry. In todays money parity difference is not bigger anyway.

    • I do not know where the figure that bread leaf costed 15 kopecks came from. Bread was usually free in cafeterias, or at worst would cost 2 kopecks a leaf.


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