St. Pete Brewery to Open Pub, Sell Beer in Capital

The St. Petersburg brewery, Aiova, has announced plans to open a 350-seat pub and restaurant in Moscow.

The company's Tinkoff beer restaurant will be an exact replica of its namesake in St. Petersburg and Aiova plans to open it for business by the end of the year, a company representative said.

Aiova advertising director Mikhail Gorbuntsov said Muscovites will have an opportunity to taste Tinkoff when its first shipments hit store shelves in downtown Moscow on Saturday. The beer retails at 40 rubles ($1.41) to 50 rubles for a 0.33 liter bottle

The company representative said lack of saturation on the Moscow beer restaurant market influenced Aiova's decision to expand into the capital.

Moscow restaurateurs agreed with Aiova's conclusions, and reacted passively to the news of Tinkoff's opening.

"Everyone has his own niche and his own clients and interest in pubs is growing now," said Andrei Smirnov, manager of Moscow's 100-seat Arsentich restaurant. "I'm absolutely certain that Tinkoff won't take away any of our clients."

Aiova is planning to spend $150,000 to promote Tinkoff in the Russian capital and St. Petersburg.

"Every beer has it's customers, but everything will depend on their marketing policies," said Maxim Pasko, marketing manager for Moscow's 500-seat Angar beer restaurant.

Gorbuntsov said Aiova had invested $1 million in its bottling operations and that the company plans to invest approximately $1.5 million in the new restaurant.

Gorbuntsov said the same amount of money was invested in the St. Petersburg location, which opened two weeks before the Aug. 17, 1998, financial crisis. "We've had this restaurant for the last year and a half. Muscovites coming to St. Pete constantly ask when one like it will appear in Moscow. We're finally ready."

The Aiova representative said the company is hoping its Moscow Tinkoff will have more customers than the St. Petersburg location. He said the St. Petersburg restaurant sees an average 1,000 customers on weekend evenings.

Gorbuntsov said a location for the new restaurant has not been chosen yet, and that the company is searching for partners in the project. "For certain, the restaurant will be in the city center."