As Russia's attacks on Ukraine escalate, major restaurant chains have begun to temporarily shutter their Russian units or cut off corporate support to Russian franchise systems amid consumer threats of boycotts.
Yum Brands was the first legacy restaurant to cease business activity in the Eastern European nation on March 7, sparking a domino effect among rival chains — McDonald's and Starbucks paused Russian operations the next day, followed by Papa John's, Burger King and Panda Express later in the week.
These chains have taken disparate approaches to actually winding down Russian business, however, largely because they own and franchise varying percentages of their units in the country.
McDonald's, for example, owns 84% of its 847 Russian restaurants, while Starbucks' 130 Russian units are 100% licensed by the company and run by independent operators. Papa John's Russian restaurants are also 100% franchised and are managed by a master franchisee who "controls operations and provides all supplies and ingredients for the restaurants through a supply chain that it owns and operates."
Some restaurants continue to operate in Russia, however. Subway's 450 franchised restaurants in the nation continue to operate, but the sandwich chain will redirect profits from these units to humanitarian efforts supporting Ukrainians who have been impacted by the Russian invasion.
For most of these chains, Russian restaurants make up a small percentage of global revenue. Starbucks' units, for example, represent less than 1% of global value. Still, ceasing operations comes with a cost — McDonald's estimates the decision will cost $50 million per month. The Golden Arches' operations in Russia account for almost 9% of global revenue because of the high level of corporate ownership of stores, according to the company.
Both diners and investors have begun looking to major restaurants to take a stand on social and political issues, so shuttering a few hundred Russian locations may be a small price to pay to protect their reputations and avoid customer attrition. As the conflict drags on, companies that remain silent on the issue could risk losing sales and inflicting long-lasting damage to their brand halos.
Here is a list of major U.S. restaurant companies and how they have — or haven't — adjusted their operations in Russia. This list will be updated regularly.