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McDonald's entry into Russia makes its planned exit seem ho-hum

Restaurant Rewind: The opening was hailed as a contributor to the thawing of relations between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. It also introduced many Russians to the concept of smiling.

McDonald’s withdrawal from Russia has been big news, but the attention is nothing compared to the to-do that accompanied its entry into what was then a part of the Soviet Union. The opening of the first store 32 years ago was heralded as a turning point in East-West relations.

No wonder the ramp-up to the first store took 14 years. Much of that time was spent on the initial unit’s supply chain, but new hires needed as extensive training. Smiling in retail settings, for instance, wasn’t part of the Russian culture.

Read more about the challenges McDonald’s faced, and what the world said about the capitalist icon’s entry into Communist territory, in this week’s edition of Restaurant Rewind, hosted by Restaurant Business Editor-at-Large Peter Romeo.

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