What's left on the menu? Russian restaurateurs wrangle with food ban

Mon Aug 11, 2014 12:15pm EDT
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By Olga Petrova and Alissa de Carbonnel

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Moscow's sweeping sanctions on European food have sent Russian restaurateurs, retail chains and food producers scrambling for alternative supplies and bracing for Soviet-style shortages.

The tit for tat trade restrictions - a response to U.S. and EU sanctions imposed over Russia's actions in Ukraine - have hurt farmers in the West for whom Russia is by far the biggest buyer of EU produce.

But they will also hit consumers at home, isolating them from world trade to a degree unseen for more than two decades.

Creamy French cheeses, Australian Ribeye steak and seafood risottos are heading off the menu at restaurants after the ban on imports of all fish, meat and dairy produce.

"Prices will go up and certain food stuff will disappear," said Alexei Paperny, whose mid-priced Moscow cafe the Children of Paradise - named after a classic French film - was still packed on Friday evening.

"We'll do our best to survive .... I can't imagine how some restaurants and cafes can exist under the circumstances."

He described the year-long ban on products from the United States, the EU, Canada, Australia and Norway as "Russian sanctions against Russians" - a frustration shared by many customers at his cafe.

"It would have been fairer if state officials gave up their Mercedes and began driving Russian-made Zhigulis (Ladas)," said a diner who gave his name as Yan, while sipping red wine.   Continued...

A worker arranges cheese for sale at a grocery store in St. Petersburg August 11, 2014.   REUTERS/Alexander Demianchuk