Former McDonald’s franchise holder reopens its restaurants in Kazakhstan

Photo by Ilya Kim

On January 23, several restaurants that used to work under the McDonald’s brand reopened under the unusual sign “We are open,” according to Dmitry Avteikin, director of Kazakhstan’s fast food chain.

“Yes. We have reopened our restaurants in Almaty. We will announce what brand it will be, but it’s not McDonald’s,” he said.

Photo by Ilya Kim

Erlan Sakenov, a blogger from Astana, was the first to write about the reopening of former McDonald’s restaurants. He believes the “We are open” sign in Kazakh and Russian languages looks and sounds like a brand. The blogger recalled a similar situation in Belarus. When McDonald’s left the country in November 2022, KSB Victory Restaurants, a Belarusian company controlled by Kazakhstani businessman Kairat Boranbayev and partners from the Russian fast food chain Vkusno i tochka said that they were going to work under the Russian brand. However, it never happened. All former McDonald’s restaurants in Belarus now operate under the sign “We are open.” The country’s authorities have officially registered the brand.

Photo by Ilya Kim

“They are still sticking to the old menu. They just removed the sign of McDonald’s but the Russian brand of Vkusno i tochka has never appeared in Belarus,” Sakenov remarked.

Photo by Ilya Kim

The RIA Novosti news agency reporter, who visited one of the chain’s restaurants in Almaty, wrote that they offer Beef Tasty, Chicken Tasty, Grand Cheeseburger and Fish Tasty. A journalist from the TASS agency noticed that the website was replaced with a new name of Website visitors can see a welcoming note in the two languages saying “Everything you like! Soon!”

Aset Mashanov, director general of Food Solutions KZ (the former holder of the McDonald’s franchise in Kazakhstan), hasn’t ruled out the appearance of a new fast-food brand in the country. However, McDonald’s didn’t say it is leaving Kazakhstan forever and its final decision depends on various factors linked to the current geopolitical situation. Food Solutions KZ is controlled by Kairat Boranbayev, who has been taken into custody due to accusations of public funds embezzling.

In November 2022, McDonald’s suspended its work in Kazakhstan, citing disruption of the Russian supply chains. In January this year, the brand left the country. According to Bloomberg, after leaving the Russian market, McDonald’s banned its franchise holder in Kazakhstan from buying patties in Russia. On the other hand, local meat producers failed to replace that supplier as they do not meet McDonald’s requirements, which are quite strict.

On January 9, Food Solutions KZ, which used to run McDonald’s restaurants in Kazakhstan, announced that it has no business arrangements with Vkusno i tochka. However, on January 16, the Russian fast food chain revealed that it had launched the process of its trademark registration in Kazakhstan back in November 2022. The company explained this move with the intention to protect the brand.

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