Russia gets its caffeine fix with Starbucks clone stores

Those in Moscow who were disappointed when Starbucks closed its coffee shops following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine can now feel hopeful: A near-identical operation is opening in the capital.

The name is almost the same: Stars Coffee. The symbol could be the Starbucks mermaid twins, with their flowing hair, little mysterious smile, and star on top – although instead of the Starbucks crown, she wears a hat called “kokoshnik” Russia.

The menu, judged by the company’s app introduced the day before the store’s official Friday opening, should look familiar to any Starbucks customer.

On Thursday, Starbucks said it had no comment on new stores.

Russian businessmen take advantage of empty stores

Russian singer and businessman Timur Yunusov, better known as Timati, poses in front of a newly opened Stars Coffee cafe in the former location of Starbucks coffee shop in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Aug. 2022. A new coffee chain Shops opened Thursday in Moscow, after Russian singer and businessman Timur Yunusov, better known as Timati, and Russian restaurateur Anton Pinskiy bought Starbucks stores after the company withdrew from Russia. (Dmitry Serebryakov / The Associated Press)

Seattle-based Starbucks is one of the most visible Seattle-based companies on the wave of foreign companies withdrawing from Russia or suspending operations in response to Russian military activity in Ukraine. Others include McDonald’s, IKEA and fast fashion giant H&M.

The departure of these companies is a psychological blow to Russians accustomed to the comforts of Western-style consumer culture. But Russian entrepreneurs saw an opportunity in stores with no users.

Former McDonald’s stores are reopening and drawing sizable crowds under the name Vkusno-i Tochka. Although the name is not easy to understand and is a bit difficult to translate when it comes to (roughly: Delicious – Period), the menu is a testament that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.

Yunus Yusupov, a popular rap artist using the stage name Timati, and restaurateur Anton Pinsky teamed up to buy Starbucks properties, then took the imitation strategy a step further by naming it in English. for this activity.

At a press conference on Thursday, they vowed to reopen all old Starbucks under a new identity and even expand the business. The US company has built up its Russian operation with about 130 stores since entering the country in 2007. These stores are owned and operated by a franchisor, the Alshaya Group of Kuwait.

Mimic an attempt to arouse national pride

People gather to visit a newly opened Stars Coffee cafe at the former location of the Starbucks coffee shop in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2022. (Dmitry Serebryakov / The Associated Press)

While the similarities of the new activities to their predecessors can be seen as fueling the inspiration and efforts of others, the successors of Starbucks and McDonald’s also fit the concept of national pride. family.

Since Russia is besieged by sanctions and foreign withdrawal, officials have often asserted that Russia will get through it by relying on its own resources and energy.

Oleg Eskindarov, president of the parent company that collaborated on the Starbucks deal, told state news agency Tass: “The economic situation is difficult right now, but this is a time of opportunity.

“Over the past four months, we’ve been very actively looking at exit companies following the Starbucks example. There are some other similar examples, but we can’t talk about them yet.”

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