Why Pinkberry went to Moscow and Chipotle will go to Paris

April 28, 2011: 5:00 AM ET

Chains are no longer saturating the U.S. market before setting up lucrative yet risky overseas outposts. In an increasingly smaller world, they just can't afford to wait.

By Beth Kowitt, writer-reporter

FORTUNE -- When McDonald's (MCD) opened its first location in Moscow in 1990, an endeavor that had been in the works for 14 years, the fast food giant had more than 10,000 locations to its name and had been a franchising company for 35 years. Meanwhile, the Berlin wall had only just come down.

Fast-forward about two decades to March 2011 when Pinkberry opened its first store in Russia's capital. The frozen yogurt chain that began in 2005 has about 100 stores, yet Muscovites might be wondering what took the chain so long to arrive. There's no question times have changed.

A global operation was once considered tenable only for big restaurant companies, which would often be well on their way to a fully developed U.S. market before looking far outside North America. More

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