Homegrown fried chicken chain replaces KFC in Russia
The Russian incarnation of KFC opened its first restaurant in Moscow on Tuesday after the American fast food chain exited the country over the Kremlin’s offensive in Ukraine.
The new owners of the US giant’s former restaurants across Russia are resuscitating Rostic’s, a brand that appeared in the tumultuous early years of post-Soviet Russia.
At the launch in central Moscow, Colonel Harland Sanders, the founder of the KFC chain, was absent from the logo, but the new colour scheme still featured its signature red and white.
Several dozen customers were seen at the Rostic’s flagship venue on Tuesday afternoon.
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“For us Rostic’s is like a childhood memory,” Yevgeny Lazarev, a 31-year-old software tester, told AFP outside the restaurant. “They were here before and they came back.”
Originally launched in 1993, Rostic’s helped KFC expand in Russia and was eventually bought out by it.
For many Russians, Rostic’s brings back memories of the turbulent early years of transitioning to a free-market economy following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Another customer, Valeria Varygina, said the exit of Western giants would not affect her life.
“This is the 21st century, and there will always be enough clothes, drinks and food for everyone,” said the 22-year-old.
Last week, KFC’s parent company Yum! Brands completed its withdrawal from Russia. with the business sold to Smart Service, a local franchisee.
Neither company was immediately available for comment.
– ‘Same world’ –
As part of the deal, Smart Service agreed to retain the company’s employees in Russia, Yum! Brands said in a statement last week.
“Smart Service will initially convert their more than 100 KFC restaurants in Russia to Rostic’s,” the statement said.
“As master franchisor, Smart Service will also be responsible for working with other franchisees in Russia to rebrand to Rostic’s.”
With more than 1,000 restaurants, KFC was the largest fast food chain in Russia.
Konstantin Kotov, who co-leads Smart Service, said no major changes were planned to the menu or design of the new restaurants.
“Our main goal is to create as little discomfort for people as possible in getting to know the brand,” Kotov told Russian business newspaper RBK Daily.
“They should simply immerse themselves in the same world that they have always had.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to send troops to Ukraine in February 2022 triggered unprecedented sanctions and an exodus of foreign corporations, including Starbucks and McDonalds.
Former McDonald’s restaurants in Russia have been renamed “Vkusno i tochka”, meaning “Delicious. Full Stop”.