March 19, 2009

Russian restaurants hurt by currency

Restaurants in Russia serving foreign cuisine are finding themselves backed into an economic corner with the devalued ruble pushing up import prices.

Rosinter founder Rostislav Ordovsky-Tanaevsky Blanco, who runs Il Patio and Planeta Sushi chains, said the company is leaning more on domestic producers with 60 percent to 70 percent of the restaurants' fare now made from Russian ingredients.

McDonald's, which said it is paying 50 percent more for imported ingredients that it did seven months ago, now buys 80 percent of its food locally. When it first opened in 1990, the U.S. fast-food chain was importing 100 percent of its food, the Moscow Times reported.

Quality is another issue.

We won't switch from imports to domestic products if it means disregarding quality. For now, everything remains the same, said a spokeswoman for Ginza Project Holding, managers of Sorry, Babushka and two Asian-themed restaurants, the newspaper said.

The bottom line for a small chain called the Starlite Diner is New York Cheesecake.

There are some products for which it's simply impossible to find domestic replacement, restaurant manager Natalya Kuznetsova said.