Schlotzsky’s debuted its first location in Russia, part of a plan that will add more than 50 restaurants throughout seven former Soviet countries over the next 10 years.

The fast-casual brand debuted in Kamergerskyi, a historical area in Moscow, on November 10 and served more than 1,000 customers in the first week alone.  

“Schlotzsky’s is such a unique brand and we are happy to finally have a presence in Russia,” says master franchisee Mehmet Akpinar. “Our customers love the food and we’re already getting great feedback on the variety of Schlotzsky’s famous freshly baked sourdough buns.”

Schlotzsky’s offers more than 15 different signature sandwiches served on its fresh-from-scratch oven-baked sourdough buns, as well as gourmet pizzas built upon a sourdough crust, artisan flatbreads, freshly made-to-order tossed salads, and a variety of soups and desserts. In addition to the core menu, the Russian menu includes a tuna and a salmon sandwich, which are local favorites in the country, and a side dish of hot potato wedges.

Akpinar, who also owns Pegas Touristik, a large tour operator that services Moscow and Antalya, is looking for locations for more Schlotzsky’s restaurants. His franchise agreement includes rights to develop the brand throughout Russia, Belarus, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, and Ukraine.

Schlotzsky’s parent company, FOCUS Brands, also handles overseas expansion for Carvel Ice Cream, Cinnabon, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, and McAlister’s Deli. The company will open more than 200 international units for all its brands in 2014. Target international development markets for Schlotzsky’s include the Middle East, India, Southeast Asia, and Latin America. 

“We are thrilled to expand the Schlotzsky’s footprint into the former Soviet countries and share our unique brand in this region,” says Tony Pavese, president of FOCUS Brands International. “Once consumers come in and try our food and experience the Schlotzsky’s brand culture, we are confident they’ll keep coming back.”

Denise Lee Yohn: QSR's Marketing Guru, Fast Casual, Growth, News, Sandwiches, Schlotzsky's