MOSCOW, SEPT. 11 -- A slice of American life was served up to hungry Muscovites today as Pizza Hut opened two restaurants in a city that is no stranger to shortages.
While women queued nearby for scarce foodstuffs and consumer goods, hundreds of curious young people and families waited patiently in line for hours to sample deep-dish pizzas, garlic bread, Pepsi and fare from what was billed as the first Soviet salad bars.
"It's a piece of America," gushed Georg Tsukonov, a 20-year-old student, outside the new Pizza Hut on Kutuzovsky Prospekt, the main road leading west from downtown.
"It looks like a museum," marveled sailor Yevgeni Gerko, gazing at the bright red furnishings, brass trim, fake tropical plants and smiling young waitresses.
A large, deep-pan Super Supreme pizza with everything on it -- pepperoni, ham, spicy pork, beef, mushrooms, onions, black olives and green peppers -- emerged from an oven at the restaurant at noon, marking the official opening.
Waiting customers clutching Pizza Hut flags emblazoned with the company's red roof logo, the Stars and Stripes, and the hammer and sickle, oohed and ahhed, then excitedly tried to rush the door.
Throughout the day, Pizza Hut officials kept the doors locked and struggled to limit entrance to only a handful of people at a time.
The Kutuzovsky site has two identical dining rooms, for ruble-and dollar-paying customers, and a takeout counter. Located near a large foreigners' compound on the wide boulevard that Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev takes to work every day, it expects to make 5,000 pizzas a day.
The smaller Pizza Hut on Gorky Street, minutes from the Kremlin, has a takeout window selling slices of pizza for rubles.
The Moscow menus are similar to those in the West, with the addition of local favorites such as borscht and a Moscow seafood pizza: salmon, smoked sardines and onions. Only nine combination pizzas are offered and no substitutions are allowed.
"People don't know what the products are," said Andy Rafalet, regional operations director. "Let's make the choice a little easier."
The choice was easy at the salad bar: no lettuce, but lots of cabbage, a Soviet staple. Pizza Hut claims it's the first Moscow restaurant to serve coleslaw, as opposed to pickled, cooked or raw cabbage.
Student Irina Shushukina said beer was being limited to one bottle a person, and wine to one bottle per couple.
Despite chronic food shortages and a poor food distribution system in the Soviet Union, Pizza Hut said it hopes to buy most of its raw ingredients locally, including flour for the dough.
The restaurants' 300 young employees were hired from 3,500 applicants who replied to an ad in the Moscow Communist Party youth newspaper. Besides learning how to make and serve pizzas, most had to be taught to smile at customers, not snarl or ignore them like many Moscow restaurant workers.
The restaurants are the result of three years' negotiations, even though Pizza Hut's parent company, Pepsico Inc., has been doing business in the Soviet Union for decades.
Pepsico chairman Don Kendall cajoled then-Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev into tasting Pepsi at a 1959 trade fair. Photographs of Khrushchev and then-U.S. Vice President Richard Nixon sipping Pepsi from paper cups were published in newspapers throughout the world.
Pizza Hut said it expects to serve 50,000 customers a week, roughly seven times the turnover of any of its American outlets. McDonald's, which introduced American-style fast food to the Soviet Union in January, still sells about 5,000 burgers an hour.
The restaurants are part of a $3 billion trade deal, the largest ever signed between the Soviet Union and a U.S. corporation.