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The First McDonald’s In Moscow Opened In 1990, And These 27 Pics Show How Insane It All Was
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Other3 years ago

The First McDonald’s In Moscow Opened In 1990, And These 27 Pics Show How Insane It All Was

Under the right circumstances, even the simplest things can become symbolic. An opening of a McDonald’s restaurant, for example, sounds kind of mundane, I mean there’s already a gazillion of them around the world. But the first McDonald’s in Soviet Russia? That’s something else.

The Moscow McDonald’s initiative was a joint venture between McDonald’s of Canada and the Moscow city council. A plan first envisioned when George Cohon, founder, and CEO of McDonald’s Canada, met Soviet Union officials at the ’76 Summer Olympics in Montreal. And almost a quarter of a century later, on January 31st, 1990 it became a reality.

At the time of its construction, it was the largest McDonald’s restaurant in the world. A venue with 900 seats with a staff of about 600 workers that were carefully selected from 35,000 applicants.
Reportedly, it was expected to serve around 1,000 during the McDonald’s opening day. And in the country where the average salary was about 150 rubles per month, a Big “Mak” was selling for 3.75 rubles. That, however, didn’t stop the people from getting their first taste of it. A crowd of more than 5,000 Soviet citizens lined up in Pushkinskaya Square before it even opened and about 30,000 customers passed through the door throughout the whole day.

The summer came, but the lines just kept growing. People from other cities were flocking the McDonald’s restaurant just for a single hamburger. “We stood under the melting sun for around eight hours,” photographer Mitya Kushelevich recalled. “That wasn’t so much of a problem as we were used to standing in lines for days just to get our monthly ration of sugar and tea.”

“Once inside we were blown away by the number of young cashiers behind the huge counter, smiling, moving like bees, serving one meal after another. Nothing like our fat old ladies in white gowns sitting in front of empty shelves, pyramids of dusty canned food as window dressing.”

“I still remember how insanely huge the milkshake looked and I didn’t know how to hold a Big Mac with my tiny hands.”

“Everything tasted more intense than anything I’d ever tried before. I ate and drank and chewed like it was my last meal on earth. Around ten minutes and 5,000 calories later, my body alerted me to the fact that it wasn’t quite able to digest all the fatty deliciousness and that it was probably a good time to check out how an American toilet looked like from the inside. I wasn’t alone: the queues to the toilets, especially the women’s, was almost as long as the queues outside.”

Continue scrolling and check out the historical pictures that captured the whole madness.

On January 31, 1990, the first Soviet McDonald’s opened, in Moscow

It was the largest McDonald’s in the world at the time of its construction

And a venue with 900 seats needed a lot of employees, too

In a country where unemployment did not exist, 35,000 people applied for a job in the fast food restaurant

Around 600 were hired

The venture had been in talks with the Soviet officials since 1976

And you could say that the appearance of this notorious symbol of capitalism was a sign that times were changing

Reportedly, the restaurant expected to serve around 1,000 during its first day, but more than 5,000 Russians lined up in Pushkinskaya Square before it even opened

The summer came but the lines just kept growing. People from other cities were flocking the restaurant just for a single hamburger

“We stood under the melting sun for around eight hours,” one visitor said

“That wasn’t so much of a problem as we were used to standing in lines for days just to get our monthly ration of sugar and tea”

“Once inside we were blown away by the number of young cashiers behind the huge counter, smiling, moving like bees, serving one meal after another”

“Nothing like our fat old ladies in white gowns sitting in front of empty shelves, pyramids of dusty canned food as window dressing”

“I still remember how insanely huge the milkshake looked and I didn’t know how to hold a Big Mac with my tiny hands”

The Moscow McDonald’s initiative was a joint venture between McDonald’s of Canada and Moscow city council

A plan first envisioned when George Cohon, founder and CEO of McDonald’s Canada, met Soviet officials at the ’76 Summer Olympics in Montreal

“I’m particularly proud of the people story behind the first opening, both from Canada and Russia, learning from each other and working as one team”

“This is a story about co-operation between nations”

“And it is also a story about the Soviet who saw a sign outside reading ‘Rubles Only’ – and who said to me, ‘This is my restaurant'”

The opening drew many important people

Including Boris Yeltsin who later became the 1st President of Russia

And in the country where the average salary was about 150 rubles per month

A Big “Mak” was selling for 3.75 rubles

And people couldn’t get enough

In total, over 30,000 customers passed through the doors on the opening day of the restaurant

Setting a record for the number of customers served by a single McDonald’s in a day

The Soviet Union dissolved on December 26, 1991

Today, 649 McDonald’s are operating in a hundred Russian cities

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Aahzmandus Pervect
Community Member
3 years ago

They stood under the melting sun for hours? In Moscow, on Jan 31st? C'mon now!

M O'Connell
Community Member
3 years ago

I checked the archives, the high temperature in Moscow on 31-Jan-1990 was 1.8 degrees Celsius. So the sun certainly was melting the snow!

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Jill
Community Member
3 years ago

When I visited there in 1993, they played music at double speed so people would eat faster and leave.

Bear Trapp
Community Member
3 years ago

Around here, they can't get my order correct with only 4 other customers there. Impressive.

SurfrTx
Community Member
3 years ago

I swear I love that place but it their burgers and fries don't taste as good as when I was a kid 30 years ago.

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Aahzmandus Pervect
Community Member
3 years ago

They stood under the melting sun for hours? In Moscow, on Jan 31st? C'mon now!

M O'Connell
Community Member
3 years ago

I checked the archives, the high temperature in Moscow on 31-Jan-1990 was 1.8 degrees Celsius. So the sun certainly was melting the snow!

Load More Replies...
Jill
Community Member
3 years ago

When I visited there in 1993, they played music at double speed so people would eat faster and leave.

Bear Trapp
Community Member
3 years ago

Around here, they can't get my order correct with only 4 other customers there. Impressive.

SurfrTx
Community Member
3 years ago

I swear I love that place but it their burgers and fries don't taste as good as when I was a kid 30 years ago.

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