Amid the chaos in war-stricken Eastern Ukraine, an enterprising businessman has started a doppelganger McDonald’s franchise: DonMak.
A combination of the instability throughout Eastern Ukraine and the Western sanctions that ensued, prompted McDonald’s to close outlets in large parts of the country in 2014.
A fast-food vacuum followed, leaving abandoned restaurants and a burger-deprived population.
Following the Ukrainian Euromaidan and Anti-Maidan protests from late 2013 to early 2014, rapidly growing political tensions plunged the Ukrainian government into turmoil, and eventually drove the country to civil war.
Subsequently, an insurgent group declared Donetsk, an Eastern Ukrainian region of roughly 1m people, to be an autonomous state, renaming it the Donetsk People’s Republic in April 2014.
An opinion poll conducted in the area showed people wanted a return of American-style fast food and — in the summer of 2016 — an entrepreneur seemingly unconcerned by the wrath of McDonald’s international lawyers, seized the opportunity to fill the vacant niche and deserted buildings, and DonMak was born.
The franchise’s logo and menu bears strong resemblance McDonald’s.
The iconic golden arches, emblematic of Western indulgence, have been replaced with a more angular alternative.
The menu’s made up of burgers, fries, fried chicken, and meal deals, some of which include toys. The renowned drive-thru service lives on.
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Despite reports that prices have risen compared to when McDonald’s was in the region, the new franchise is thriving.
While the owner of DonMak has conceded that there are similarities with McDonald’s, he is adamant that the quality is better.
Most of the ingredients and the packaging are locally produced, and what little is not local is sourced from Russia, whose border is less than 100km from Donetsk.