Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Fifteenth Anniversary of Opening of First McDonald's in St. Petersburg, Russia

An article from Russia in today’s St. Petersburg Times reminds us that Russia’s second largest city, St. Petersburg, formerly known as Leningrad during the Soviet Era, got its first McDonald’s restaurant fifteen years ago this month.

While common in the United States and much of the rest of the world, the opening of a McDonald’s was a big thing in Russia.

In the eyes of their former Soviet masters, McDonald’s was a sign American decadence and excessive consumerism.

However, following the fall of communism in Russia, the newly freed people flocked to places like McDonald’s to spend their rubles.

The first McDonald’s in Russia opened 20 years ago in Russia and served 35,000 customers THE DAY THEY FIRST OPENED THEIR DOORS! Talk about pent up demand, this type of opening is a capitalist’s dream.

2002 Photo of McDonald's Restaurant in St. Petersburg, Russia
Photo Copyright 2002 by Charles Nugent

When I visited Russia in 2002, six years after the first McDonald’s opened in St. Petersburg, not only did I treat my then fiancee to dinner at one of the local McDonald’s but saw numerous entrepreneurs on the streets selling red tee shirts with McDonald’s famous golden arches superimposed over a bust of Vladimir Lenin and under the words McLenin’s.

McLenin's tee shirt
Flicker Photo by Sjors Provoost
Creative Commons Use Rights

Vladimir Lenin once boasted that the supposed greed of capitalists was such that he would be able to sell capitalists the rope to hang them with.

Instead, following the inevitable fall of communism budding capitalists in Russia mad money selling tee shirts mocking Lenin and applauding the new freedom to eat at the local franchise of the American McDonald's chain.

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