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Russia’s first ever McDonald’s reopens on Moscow’s Pushkin Square

November 19, 2014, 14:14 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The fast-food chain's administrators refrained from making any opening ceremony but simply decorated the building with balloons

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MOSCOW, November 19. /TASS/. Moscow’s first McDonald’s restaurant, closed this past summer after unscheduled checks by Russia's food safety watchdog, reopened its doors on Wednesday, a TASS correspondent reported from the scene.

Some people already queued by 12:00 noon at the entrance to the famous location on Pushkin Square, which brought McDonald's to Russia just before the fall of the Soviet Union, and which the company says is its most frequented in the world.

The fast-food chain's administrators refrained from making any opening ceremony but simply decorated the building with balloons, the correspondent said.

Company spokeswoman Svetlana Polyakova told TASS about some recent enhancements to the interior design of the restaurant, including deployment of self-service kiosks. The chain has installed four kiosks with touch-screen terminals, allowing customers to order and pay electronically. This system had not been used at the restaurant before the closure, Polyakova said, noting that more than a half of McDonald's outlets in Russia are equipped with self-ordering kiosks.

“Other enhancements concerned internal processes. We have improved manufacturing and service processes,” Polyakova said.

In late August, Russia's safety regulator started inspecting restaurants of the fast-food giant across the country. Several McDonald's outlets were shut down over breaches of sanitary rules, covering locations from Moscow to the Ural Mountains and from St. Petersburg to the southern Stavropol region. These included the historic restaurant on Moscow’s Pushkin Square, a branch on Manezh Square under the Kremlin walls, and on the thoroughfare Prospect Mira. The other two McDonald's restaurants in the city centre are expected to restart operations later.

Russian authorities said earlier they were not planning to close down McDonald's chain nationwide.

“No one is talking about it at all [a ban on McDonald's in Russia],” Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said after inspectors took to the road. But some businessmen in Russia said checks had been driven by souring relations between Russia and the West over events in Ukraine.

“Obviously it's driven by political issues surrounding Ukraine,” said Alexis Rodzianko, president and CEO of the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia.

Outlets closed as Russia introduced a year-long embargo on meat, fish, dairy, fruit and vegetables from the United States, the European Union, Canada, Australia and Norway in retaliation for economic sanctions imposed by those nations on Russia.

McDonald's operates 435 restaurants in 85 Russian cities and rates the country one of its top seven markets outside the United States and Canada, according to its 2013 annual report. The company employs nearly 37,000 people in Russia, serving more than one million customers a day.

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