Fast-casual chain Teremok (Tеремок) offers hand-made Russian favorites. They have become a major player in Russia’s food service industry by offering a relatively healthy, national alternative to international fast food chains – and by keeping their prices competitive. Serving everything from sweet and savory blini to borsch, kasha, kvass, and pelmeni, Teremok has taken urban Russia by storm.

The concept began with a mother and son duo. Dedicated to bringing quick-yet-healthy traditional fare to Moscow, they registered their business in 1998 and opened their first kiosk near the Moscow Metro’s Aeroport Station one year later. They’ve since expanded to more than 280 locations in the Moscow and St. Petersburg metropolitan areas. They have more recently sprung up in Siberia, southern Russia, and even New York City. All together, they serve some 30 million customers per year.

Blini (Блины), Teremok’s specialty, are thin pancakes made from buckwheat flour, eggs, and milk. They are a common and beloved national food for Russians. Teremok makes them to order fresh for every customer. The company explains on its website that fresh ingredients are delivered every night. They offer a range of fillings. These include the types of simple blin that most Russians might prepare at home, such as with simple sour cream, cheese, or jam. They also offer original and even over-the-top versions like the “Farm” blin: with bacon, mashed potatoes, pickles, and onions. There is also the (in)famous “RoyalBlin:” a beef-and-pork cutlet wrapped in a blini and served with burger-like trimmings.

Though Teremok kiosks sell only blini, menus at shopping center and café locations include soups and salads as well as kasha, a traditional Russian dish of boiled grains that Teremok then mixes with other ingredients.

Teremok kiosks are now slowly disappearing, in favor of more walk-in restaurants. Urban planners of Russia’s cities are increasingly making life harder for the humble kiosk, arguing that they are more difficult to regulate and even unsightly. However, Teremok has done well transitioning, using the restaurants to create a more fun, distinctive atmosphere and also taking advantage of the fact that established restaurants are generally associated with healthier products.

Their café walls are adorned with colorful matryoshka bearing slogans (in Russian) such as “Food doesn’t need to be complicated, but it does need to be delicious!” and “Mama makes everything better, but we’re not sportsmen so second place suits us.” Teremok’s love and respect for Russian tradition has earned the brand massive success: according to their website, they’re recognized as one of the largest catering entities in Russia and are consistently rated among the top five most popular fast food brands in the nation.

With entrees starting around $3.50 (200 rubles), Teremok is truly a must-try modern take on traditional Russian foods.

 

Below is a 2010 report from ABC news on the rise of Teremok.

 

Below is a short video made by an advertising agency representing Teremok about adjustments made to their branding to try to increase sales specifically during the evening hours.

 

 
Internet personality Crazy Russian Dad remarks on the opening of the first Teremok in America.

 

Katheryn Weaver is a student of rhetoric and history at the University of Texas, Austin. Her primary areas of investigation include revolution and the rhetorical justification of violence against individuals, state, and society. She is currently studying Russian as a Second Language with SRAS's Home and Abroad Scholarship.