A&W Restaurants

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About A&W Restaurants


Liquid Capital: $1,500,000

Net Worth Requirement: $1,000,000

Franchise Fees: $30,000

Royalty: 5%

Training and Support: Available

Home Office: Lexington, KY

CEO: Kevin M. Bazner

A&W Restaurants

Investement Range $871,000 - $1,469,554


About A&W Restaurants Franchise

It started with cold, creamy Root Beer on a hot day, and the rest, as they say, is history.

A&W has a long history in this country, beginning with the first A&W Root Beer stand in 1919. Chain founder Roy Allen handed out his first handmade soda during a parade in Lodi, CA, to welcome home returning WWI vets. A century later, we have more than 625 restaurants from coast to coast (including a couple in Alaska), we make our Root Beer fresh in stores daily, and we’re still deeply connected to the small-town communities that have supported us all these years.

Best franchises to open in small towns

  • From a distribution standpoint, sharing truck space with big brands allows A&W to more efficiently serve every part of the country, including small markets others can’t touch. Not only does that allow our franchise owners to tap into the major advantages of operating in small-town America, but they also reap the rewards of lower supply and distribution costs, which help boost their bottom-line revenues.
  • A&W is rooted in smaller markets, although we have premium market availability in more urban areas, too. From a consumer standpoint, our brand’s reliance on a single large distributor helps ensure consistency of the guest experience.
  • Guests are drawn to the nostalgia of A&W, to the authenticity of an iconic American brand that’s been around since 1919. You need only read our social media reviews to see evidence of that – people love revisiting a restaurant they’ve known and loved since childhood, and they love bringing in their children and grandchildren to share that same quality experience.
  • “When we acquired the A&W brand in 2011, we embarked on a brand strategy to figure out what we wanted to be when we grew up,” says Martino. “Did we want to be a McDonald’s? Or did we want to be a Five Guys? Did we want to be a fast-food player? Or did we want to get into fast-casual? We decided very quickly that we were somewhere in the middle, and we wanted to move towards the top. That involved quality food.
  • “Our supply and distribution vendor is a big part of consistently delivering that quality to A&W brand fans across the nation.”
  • Our ties to a major buying co-op make supply and distribution a dream for every A&W franchisee in the country.

Designing and opening restaurants

  • With our flexible store designs and talented Design Team, nearly any location can make a great fit for an A&W restaurant.
  • One of the most important factors in any fast-food franchise’s success is location. A highly visible, easily accessible spot helps you gain more foot traffic, more guests, and more sales, so we have flexible store build-outs that can work almost anywhere.
  • Better still, we have layouts that can make for more scalable and affordable fast-food franchise costs at a number of different investment levels, whether you’re looking at a single location or a multi-unit agreement.

Site selection and design

  • Picking the perfect location is crucial to a franchisee’s success because location can have a big impact on sales. That’s why our restaurant designs can work in nearly any space, so our franchisees don’t have to compromise on where they want to open.
  • “As I’m looking to develop 10 to 15 restaurants over the next seven years, one of the things that I pay particular attention to is the location,” says franchisee Don Unruh of Delphos, OH. “Location in this industry is very important, and I’ve seen in my past experience that franchisees over time can be much more profitable by picking and building on a grade-A location.”
  • We know that no two restaurant projects are the same, so our creative Design Team works directly with franchisees to layout the equipment and seating to optimize efficiency and operations.
  • “It’s not a cookie-cutter mentality at the corporate office because they deal with so many different kinds of locations,” says Linda Mulder of Grand Ledge, MI, a second-generation franchisee whose family owns 10 A&W units. “So if you have what you think could be a really neat location for an A&W, you can go for it. Bring it to the corporate offices and see what they can make out of it, and you might be really surprised.”
  • We have prototypes ranging from 900 to 2,200 square feet that can be modified to maximize your space, whether it’s a ground-up, in-line, or conversion of an existing space. We also provide design drawings that you can share with your architect, and we will work directly with you to design both the interior and exterior of the restaurant to bring the iconic A&W brand to your community.

Opening process

A Project Manager is assigned for each new restaurant. He or she will work with the franchisee from the time they register the site until after the store is opened. We provide a detailed, step-by-step guide to assist you and your architect, contractor, and managers to get the restaurant opened. The Project Manager will be your liaison to the entire A&W Restaurant Support Center Team in addition to all external vendors to ensure that you have the tools needed to open your new restaurant.

Why small towns and A&W are a great match

  • An infographic shows a photo of a man in restaurant whites resting his left arm on a ladder. The text on the left reads, “We should be famous for this. In 1963, A&W became the first chain restaurant to serve a Bacon Cheeseburger.” Beneath that is Dale Mulder’s autograph in the orange script, and then in print is, “Dale Mulder, A&W, Inventor of the Original Bacon Cheeseburger.” On the right-hand side of the graphic is a photo of a bacon cheeseburger with words underneath that read, “The Original Bacon Cheeseburger.”
  • Our hip nostalgia attracts new fans, and our stable brand offers long-term recurring cash-flow potential.
  • A&W has over 625 locations nationwide, and our resurgent brand is experiencing fresh momentum. While we work in many types of locations, from exurbs to more rural areas, we’ve always had an affinity for small towns. Perhaps because that’s where we got started and where we continue to thrive.
  • We’ve been in business since 1919 when we became the first restaurant franchise in the U.S. Few brands have that kind of history, and we can tell you that people’s connections to our company are far-reaching as well. Our guests are nostalgic for the A&W restaurants they remember from their childhood and relish the chance to introduce them to their own children and grandchildren.
  • With such a long history, our franchisees – who own the brand – feel confident about our ability to provide the recurring cash-flow potential for the long haul. So much so that many of them turn it into a family business that they pass along to the next generation, and the next. Many of them successfully operate these inter-generational franchises in smaller towns.
  • Our guests are nostalgic for the A&W restaurants they remember from their childhood and relish the chance to introduce them to their own children and grandchildren.
  • Small-town franchise, the big advantage
  • Exurbs and cities have a seemingly clear advantage when it comes to traffic. They’re more densely populated and therefore more visible in the right location. But small towns have some surprising advantages when it comes to an A&W franchise. Aside from the pull of our nostalgia, we often face less competition, making us among the most profitable fast-food franchises for small towns. Competing brands frequently dismiss towns below a certain population density, but A&W recognizes the revenue opportunities. Real estate costs tend to be lower, and our outstanding supply and distribution network keeps prices down.
  • This opens up an investment strategy that restaurateurs can use to build significant assets on top of hopefully profitable restaurant operations. It’s a particularly strong opportunity for multi-unit operators who no longer have real estate ownership options readily available with their current brands. With A&W, they can bring a well-known brand into suburban and exurban areas of their markets as well as small towns, taking advantage of an opportunity to operate in an area with limited competition and potentially valuable real estate assets.

How we keep supply costs down

Our vendor relationship with Restaurant Supply Chain Solutions (RSCS) is our secret weapon for small-town operators and multi-unit owners with diverse locations. Since RSCS services three other major restaurant brands – Pizza Hut, KFC, and Taco Bell – our franchise partners can tap into significant discounts on food, paper, and equipment. Their extensive network keeps distribution costs from spiraling, and the system overall helps A&W operate with wider profit margins.

That helps A&W work well for franchisees, even in very small towns. Webster, SD, is a town of only 1,800 people, but A&W franchise owner-operator Benita Baus has been running her 50-seat restaurant there since 2006 when she bought it from the previous franchisee. Her sales have done tremendously well, she says.

“We are situated at the corner of two major highways right out of Minneapolis and straight into Aberdeen,” Baus says. “We get a lot of locals, but we get a lot of traffic from visitors to the area, too. When I bought the place, the owner before me used to close the A&W in the winter, but I had so many requests to keep it open that we stay open all year now. Our business in summer will more than double.”

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