Well-known movie di­rec­tors pro­pose Rus­sian fast-food al­ter­na­tive chain

The China Post - - BUSINESS -

Two of Rus­sia’s best- known movie di­rec­tors are aim­ing to cre­ate a chain of fast-food restau­rants that would be an al­ter­na­tive to West­ern-style op­er­a­tions such as McDon­ald’s.

The move by Nikita Mikhalkov and An­drei Kon­chalovsky, who are broth­ers, comes amid grow­ing an­i­mos­ity to­ward the West, es­pe­cially the United States, over the con­flict in Ukraine. But even be­fore those ten­sions emerged, many Rus­sians watched un­easily as West­ern fast­food out­lets spread vig­or­ously.

Mikhalkov and Kon­chalovsky pro­posed the project, called “Eat at Home,” in a let­ter to Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin last month that said the goal was “the cre­ation of an al­ter­na­tive to West­ern fast-food chains,” the news­pa­per Kom­m­er­sant re­ported.

The busi­ness news agency RBC re­ported Thurs­day that the gov­ern­ment will back a bank loan of 680 mil­lion rubles ( US$13 mil­lion) for the project.

Mikhalkov gained in­ter­na­tional recog­ni­tion with the 1994 film “Burnt by the Sun,” which won the 1994 Academy Award for best for­eign film. In re­cent years he has been a vo­cal sup­porter of Putin.

Kon­chalovsky spent years in the United States and his Hol­ly­wood films in­clude “Tango and Cash.”

They are sons of Sergei Mikhalkov, who wrote both the lyrics for the Soviet na­tional an­them, and for the Rus­sian na­tional an­them when the Soviet-era mu­sic was re­stored in 2001.

As ten­sions with the United States grew in the Ukraine cri­sis, sev­eral McDon­ald’s out­lets were tem­po­rar­ily closed on the grounds of health vi­o­la­tions, in­clud­ing the vast unit on Moscow’s Pushkin Square that had been a huge sen­sa­tion when it was the first of the com­pany’s restau­rants in the Soviet Union.

Af­ter the USSR’s col­lapse, many other West­ern fast-food chains en­tered the Rus­sian mar­ket, aim­ing to tap pent-up con­sumer de­mand. Although some lo­cal chains have es­tab­lished strong op­er­a­tions, for­eign chains such as KFC, Burger King and Cinnabon are wide­spread in shop­ping-cen­ter food courts.

Kon­chalovsky said the idea

of start­ing a fast-food chain had been per­co­lat­ing in his mind for years, but that the West­ern sanc­tions im­posed against Rus­sia over Ukraine so­lid­i­fied his con­cept.

How­ever, he de­nied sug­ges­tions that the chain aimed to sup­plant West­ern fast food.

“We don’t in­tend to ruin any­one,” he said, ac­cord­ing to the RIA Novosti news agency. “That would be the same as fight­ing with Hol­ly­wood, fight­ing with McDon­ald;s.”

McDon­ald’s op­er­a­tion in Rus­sia re­garded the plans with out­ward equa­nim­ity.

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