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A&W Looking Good, Still Growing at 100


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Making it to 100 is a gift for anything or anyone, and A&W Restaurants is looking unusually spry as America’s first and oldest restaurant chain approaches the century mark. The food and treats brand expects to open 12 new units this year after adding 15 franchise locations in 2017.

Since late 2011, when a group of franchisees acquired A&W from YUM! Brands—check out our story on CEO Kevin Bazner’s strategy HERE—root beer lovers across the country have welcomed 54 new restaurants. There are now more than 630 locations in the U.S.

“From day one, we have focused on helping operators grow profitable same-store sales,” said Bazner. He noted A&W has reported sales increases in 20 of the last 24 quarters, including the very challenging first quarter of this year. “That performance has benefited our existing operators, many of whom are adding units, but it’s also driven interest from new franchisees.”

Average same-store sales also are up over 33 percent for the same time period.

Bazner added that free-standing locations now average annual sales of $951,678, based on Item 19 in A&W’s recently updated Franchise Disclosure Document. This is the first time A&W has included an Item 19 since acquiring the brand. “We are seeing a lot of interest from operators looking to build new stand-alone restaurants, as well as gas and convenience units,” he said.

So far this year, A&W has opened restaurants in Cape Girardeau, Mo., Spencer, Wis., Fremont, Neb., and Stansbury Park, Utah. Restaurants are currently under development in Berkeley and Hayward, Calif., Salome, Ariz., Algoma, Wis., Lima, Ohio, Hershey, Neb., Almont and Mt. Morris, Mich., Otsego, Minn., Rock Rapids, Iowa, and Las Vegas, NV.

A&W was founded in Lodi, California, in June 1919. Plans for its centennial celebration are being finalized. They include a book to be published next year with profits going to Disabled American Veterans – DAV.

A&W Restaurants ranks #188 on the Franchise Times Top 200+ list and #4 on Time Magazine’s 2018 list of America’s best fast-food chains. It still makes fresh root beer fresh in each restaurant from real cane sugar, water and a proprietary blend of herbs, bark, spices and berries that are served in a frosty mug alongside burgers, fries, chicken tenders and other so-called All American Food favorites. There are nearly 1,000 locations worldwide.

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The latest news, opinions and commentary on what's happening in the franchise arena that could affect your business.

Tom KaiserTom Kaiser is senior editor of Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3209, or send story ideas to tkaiser@franchisetimes.com.
 
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is editor-in-chief of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
 
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
 
Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is managing editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
 
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at
 twitter.com/mlarson1011.
 

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