On this day 26 years ago Russia’s first McDonald’s restaurant opened on the central Pushkin Square in Moscow. To the U.S. born Canadian businessman George Cohon this represented the achievement of over a decade of negotiations with Soviet authorities, to most Muscovites the arrival of one of the best-known fast-food restaurants worldwide was a sure sign that things were changing in their country. Everything had been well prepared for the opening of this 2,500 m2–large restaurant: food had been processed in special factories; a staff of 630 had been carefully selected from over 27,000 applicants and then trained in the practice of fast-food service and polite customer attendance; local artists had been contracted to keep the waiting crowd entertained. The first day proved an immense success, as by the end of the day over 30,000 customers had been served. In 2008 it became the most visited McDonald’s restaurant in the world.

Today the Golden Arches of McDonald’s can be found in major towns and cities of about 121 countries. Restaurants tend to be centrally situated, often in or near historical buildings. What began as a simple barbecue restaurant in San Bernardino, California, opened by the brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald in May 1940, rapidly grew into a fast-food chain when the founders applied the assembly-line principle to their hamburger production (from 1948 onwards). This form of production had already been introduced to the food service industry in the 1920s by the worldwide first fast-food hamburger restaurant White Castle, whose founders consciously adopted the example set by Henry Ford in the automobile industry. Contrary to White Castle, a chain which has remained a private company, McDonald’s eventually became a corporation and spread nationally and internationally by franchising their restaurants.

Here you can listen to a BBC interview about the opening day in Moscow. You may also be interested in a summary of the story behind the Golden Arches logo. Jimmy Stamp offers a more academic approach to the history of the Golden Arches. More about the History of McDonald’s can be read at their official site.

McDonald’s in different guises …

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Sources: The Moscow Times, Telegraph, LocalPorto, McDonald’s News