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Was Pierre Gagnaire Forced to Close His Moscow Restaurant Over Embargoes?

Russia banned imports of Western food products last year.

Embargoes suck.
Embargoes suck.

Lauded French chef Pierre Gagnaire — who owns restaurants in multiple cities including Dubai, Paris, and Las Vegas — is closing Les Menus inside the Lotte Hotel in Moscow, Russia. A spokesperson for the hotel tells the AFP that the closure is due to the end of its lease: "After five years of fruitful cooperation with Pierre Gagnaire, Les Menus restaurant is closing because of the agreement running out at the end of March."

However, many speculate that the shutter is actually due to the economic crisis in Russia and the country's embargo on a slew of Western food imports in retaliation to Western sanctions in Ukraine. The embargo makes it difficult to obtain many ingredients on the restaurant's menu. Plus, with the economic crisis — in which inflation has soared — "most luxury foods have to be imported to Russia." Additionally, the economic crisis means demand for luxury items is waning.

Gagnaire's restaurant is just one of many in Russia that have faced difficulties since the government placed embargoes on Western food imports. Sushi restaurants — which are very popular across Russia — are taking a hit because they cannot source fish locally: One restaurant manager notes that there is "no Russian salmon." McDonald's Russia also experienced serious repercussions over Western sanctions: 12 locations were forced to shutter while another 200 stores faced surprise government inspections.

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