Russian restaurants have been mocked for “plagiarising” Western fast-food chains as former KFC branches undergo a major post-Soviet Union revamp. After KFC’s parent company finalised their departure from Russia last week in a bid to distance itself from the invasion of Ukraine, a number of the sites have reopened under the name “Rostic”. The name had served as the vehicle brand for KFC’s expansion across Russia following the collapse of communism in the early 1990s, and it has been brought back to life in the wake of KFC’s departure.
Photos from the opening of a Rostic branch in Moscow on Tuesday showed delighted employees cheering as they prepared to serve their first customers.
Konstantin Kotov, Company Manager of Smart Service, which bought the franchise rights for the branches from KFC parent company Yum! Brands earlier this month, attended the opening ceremony of the first new Rostic restaurant on Tverskaya Street, central-western Moscow.
The deal signed in April included the takeover of all Russian KFC restaurants, its operating system, and the trademark for the Rostic’s brand, which belonged to KFC.
Yum! Brands had more than 1,000 KFC restaurants before it announced plans to exit last year following the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Smart Service has pledged to rebrand 10 percent of their newly-acquired KFCs by this summer but said it would support the branches that wish to retain the US logo for the time being.
“We can longer open KFC restaurants, unfortunately, but we are obliged to support them,” Kotov said at the press conference. “Our main goal is to rebrand. We have a plan to finish the whole country in 18 months.”
The name change, however, appears to be the only substantial alteration being made to the former KFC stores, with the menu, brand colours and staff remaining the same.
“The dishes we make are completely the same as KFC,” Kotov added. KFC’s Boxmaster is being renamed Rostmaster and the Twister will become the Chef-Roll. All suppliers will remain the same.
The revamp differs from rival fast food chain McDonald’s, which withdrew its ownership, as well as the right to use its brand, from Russia.
McDonald’s imposed the strongest restrictions on the use of its products, making it near impossible to enjoy their food in Russia, while KFC is permitting its franchisees with existing agreements to remain open.
The move has been mocked by social media users, who suggested it was “still American culture” despite the rebrand.
One user said: “I do not understand this blatant Russian contradiction. They hate the West but they love KFC. They show, therefore, that they are miserable in body and soul and it seems that their greatest virtue is lying about everything.”
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Another said: “This is still American culture. All the capitalists and oligarchs alike love American culture because it makes a profit.”
One social media user simply said: “Did somebody say plagiarism?” Others joked that the alleged chicken products would be made from different meats.
KFC partnered with Rostic’s in 2005 before later buying it out. The new owners said the possibility of Yum! Brands returning one day had not been ruled out.
Originally launched in 1993 while Russia was transitioning out of communism, Rostic was KFC’s vehicle for expansion in Russia.
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