Government urging McDonald's to reopen restaurants in Ukraine during war

24 June, 06:34 PM
Even the government became interested in opening McDonald’s in Ukraine (Photo:McDonald's Ukraine)

Even the government became interested in opening McDonald’s in Ukraine (Photo:McDonald's Ukraine)

The Ukrainian government is trying to persuade McDonald's to reopen its restaurants before the end of the war with Russia, but no final decision on this has yet been taken.

Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba said the government is urging the U.S. business and its Kyiv office to open the doors of their restaurants. The largest fast food chain in Ukraine has been closed since the start of the Russian invasion on Feb. 24.

The reopening of the famous U.S. food chain would be a political decision against the backdrop of the closure of the network in Russia, as opening now would make little economic sense – the market performance of the restaurant business is about half what it was before the full-scale Russian invasion, says co-owner of the Pastateca chain, Maxim Khramov.

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The big break

The first McDonald’s restaurant in Kyiv opened in the mid-1990s. In 25 years, the company has built up a network of 109 establishments working in 24 cities of Ukraine. But with the Russian full-scale invasion at the end of February, McDonald's closed restaurants for the first time in its history in Ukraine. The company has repeatedly stated that due to security issues, establishments will not operate until after the war.

Still, only three months after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the Ukrainian government is trying to convince McDonald's to change its mind. Kuleba said that a few weeks ago, the government reached out first to the chain’s Ukrainian office, and then to the McDonald's headquarters in the United States.

“This issue was also mentioned with our official contacts with the U.S. government, because McDonald's is one of the most famous American brands. The process is underway,” Kuleba said.

According to NV, the management of the Ukrainian office is in contact with their employees. “There are rumors that work might resume, maybe even in August. But so far, no concrete decision has been made,” said an employee of the company in the central office, on condition of anonymity.

The press service of McDonald's had not provided comments by the time this article was published.

The biggest difficulty for the company's work will be to restore its supply chains, says CEO of Restaurant Consulting Olga Nasonova. The chain’s requirements for product quality are very high, but whether facilities will be able to fulfill orders now or whether they need to look for a replacement is a big question, says Nasonova. For example, the chain's sauces are supplied by the Chumak plant in Russian-occupied Kherson Oblast , which is not operating at the moment.

Beef is produced by a factory in Vinnytsia Oblast, buns are supplied by a company in Dnipro, the milk mixture for ice cream is supplied by the Bilotserkivsʹky dairy plant, milk for coffee is supplied by the Loostdorf company from Vinnytsia Oblast, eggs, pastries, lettuce and vegetables are supplied by factories in Kyiv Oblast, etc. Ukrainian oblasts produce drinks, oatmeal, paper cups, paper napkins, burger packaging and other cardboard packaging.

In addition, the company will not be able to open all the restaurants – some have been damaged by Russian shelling.

Political decision

The current restaurant market indicators are far from pre-war levels. “Now our revenues are half that of the pre-war period,” says Khramov. He suggests that if McDonald's saw the economic need to open restaurants, then the management of the food chain wouldn’t have to be persuaded. Rather, he believes reopening the business would be a political decision.

In mid-May, the chain announced its final decision to leave Russia and sell all of its 850 establishments in the country, including franchised ones. A month later, other establishments called “Fkusna i Tochka” (“It’s tasty, period.”) opened in its place.

“Perhaps, in this regard, the reopening of McDonald’s would be a good signal that the civilized world supports Ukraine,” says Khramov. 

“McDonald's is more than just food – it’s an indicator that shows the attitude of the international community towards our country.”

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