McDonald’s will begin reopening its restaurants in Kyiv and western Ukraine, the company said Thursday, in response to what it called the “strong desire” of many employees to return to their jobs despite the ongoing war with Russia.
After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, McDonald’s closed its 109 restaurants there. Many workers fled while others joined the armed forces. In the six months since, the fighting has shifted largely to the country’s east and south and thousands of Ukrainians have returned to their homes in the capital, Kyiv, and in western regions of the country.
“We’ve spoken extensively to our employees who have expressed a strong desire to return to work and see our restaurants in Ukraine reopen, where it is safe and responsible to do so,” Paul Pomroy, a vice president for international operations at McDonald’s, said in a statement.
“In recent months, the belief that this would support a small but important sense of normalcy has grown stronger,” he said.
Mr. Pomroy said the decision to begin a phased reopening of restaurants would “support the local economy and the Ukrainian people.” It was made after discussions with Ukrainian officials, suppliers and security specialists, he said. While the restaurants were closed, the company said, it continued to pay the salaries of more than 10,000 employees.
McDonald’s has 39,000 restaurants in over 100 countries. In Russia, where it had 840 restaurants, the company stopped operating after the invasion. Two months later, under growing employee and consumer pressure, it put the restaurants up for sale.
A month later, after they were bought by a Siberian oil mogul, the Russian restaurants reopened under a different name. The new owner was confident that he could continue serving the same food because it had been locally sourced. But a potato shortage, caused by a lean harvest in Russia and supply chains snarled by Western sanctions, prompted the rebranded chain to remove fries from its menu last month.