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A YouTuber journalist says a rebranded Russian McDonalds has flatter Coke, smells different

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Four young women with chips and milkshakes in front of a sign for Vkusno & tochka
People visit the newly opened Vkusno & tochka restaurant in a former McDonald's outlet in Pushkinskaya Square, on June 12, 2022 in Moscow, Russia.
  • The first rebranded McDonald's in Russia opened on June 12 in Moscow, and is named Vkusno i tochka.
  • A reporter visited Vkusno i tochka in Moscow and said it didn't smell like a traditional McDonald's.
  • The reporter said the cola lacked sugar found in Coke, which will soon be unavailable in Russia.
  • For more stories, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

A Russian reporter from a popular YouTube channel went to the rebranded McDonald's in Moscow and said the smell and food are different.

McDonald's was among the American chains that closed operations in Russia, amid that country's war with Ukraine. The fast food chain, which operated in Russia for 30 years after the fall of the Soviet Union, was sold to Russian businessman Alexander Govor, who ran 25 McDonald's restaurants in Siberia. The rebranded restaurants are now called Vkusno i tochka, which translates to "Tasty and that's it," according to Reuters.

In the YouTube video from the Russian channel Redaktsia, a reporter met with this restaurant's owner, Aleksandr Sysoev, to try Vkusno i tochka. (Redaktsia, which means 'editorial office' in Russian, was created by Russian television host Alexey Pivovarov, who is also editor-in-chief of RTVI, a privately owned television network.)

As soon as they walk in, the female Redaktsia reporter says the smell inside the restaurant is not like the traditional smell of a McDonald's. At a table of younger women, the reporter asks how the food is and if it's changed from the McDonald's food. 

One of the girls tells the reporter the chicken tastes better, but that the taste may be due to a three-month withdrawal from the food.

The reporter, who accidentally asks Sysoev if it's his first time eating at the "McDonald's" (instead of calling it Vkusno i tochka), says the food packaging is different from the original packaging. The reporter has a "grande" burger, which is rebranded from the McDonald's "royal cheeseburger," and has nuggets and fries.

When the reporter and Sysoev go for the sweet and sour sauce, they realise the McDonald's logo is marked out with a black marker. Reuters previously reported the logo was marked out on other sauce packets too, like ketchup. 

Sysoev tells the reporter the chips "are the same, at least visually."

In response to the critique, Vladislav Solomatov, head of quality control for the restaurant, says the potatoes for the chips are from potatoes grown in Russia, and processed in the Lipetsk Oblast.

Vkusno i tochka's CEO, Oleg Paroev, says the restaurant gets around 99% of its produce from Russian suppliers, but some of the ingredients come from other countries. A lot of beef, he said, is imported from other countries like Uruguay and Paraguay, because Russia doesn't have enough beef.

The buns, which used to be made with lecithin starch imported from the US, also are different. The buns at Vkusno i tochka are made from flour and water, and don't have the same crunchiness without the lecithin starch, Paroev says.

When the reporter and Sysoev try the cola, the reporter says other people have told her it tastes "strange." Sysoev says it's less carbonated and similar to Coke Zero, the version of Coke that has zero sugar.

Alina Didkovskaya, who manages McDonald's Telegram, says Coke will not be available in Russia for much longer, and restaurants are depending on leftovers before having to find an alternative.

Vkusno i tochka plans to reopen another 200 restaurants by the end of June. McDonald's previously had 850 restaurants throughout Russia. The restaurant chain also has an option to buy back its Russian restaurants within 15 years.

Translations by Nikita Angarski.

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