Meet the veterans of A&W

They served our country, and now they’re serving customers at A&W restaurants

A picture of an American flag next to the words "Thank you, veterans."

Topher Lee served for seven years in the U.S. Army Special Forces, and was injured twice during his time in Panama. Today, Lee and his business partner run the A&W in Glenwood, MN, with Lee focusing on training and developing leadership teams, thanks in part to the skill set he learned in the military. We’d like to be considered among the best fast food franchises for veterans, and in advance of Veterans Day Nov. 11, we spoke to some of the veterans who now work in the A&W franchise system.

Lee has lived with back pain and permanent nerve damage in his arm for 25 years, but thanks in part to an assist from the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) organization, he was able to make a transition back into civilian life and open his own consulting business, which he still runs today.

“In the military, I learned discipline, teamwork, partnership and training skills,” Lee says. “I apply those skills every day in the civilian world.”

Rick Lauder worked in a drug detox facility for the U.S. Army and as general medical personnel in the Vietnam War for 21 months — an admirable task. For the past 22 years, he and his wife have been owners and operators of the Boomville, MO, A&W.

“Being in the military,” he says, “made me grow up and realize what life was about. Looking back on it, I’m glad I went because it taught me how to be an adult.”

Ken King, Marketing Director for Happy Day Restaurants, also served in Vietnam in the U.S. Navy from 1964-67, working at the main supply depot in Saigon and later running the storeroom on board a ship.

“Since I grew up in the military, transitioning into civilian life wasn’t much of an adjustment for me,” says King. “I am a very loyal patriot and love my country.” He currently handles marketing for seven different brands, a job he says is “very challenging, but fun,” he says.

Why we love veterans

Since the beginning in 1919, A&W has embraced military veterans and given them an opportunity to use their skill sets on a civilian level and build successful businesses. We’ve raised more than $650,000 in donations for veteran-related charities since 2013, including $100,000 donated to the DAV in 2017. Supporting our nation’s veterans is a cause we passionately believe in.

In addition to the many franchise owners in our company who served in the military, many employees are also veterans.

Learn more about one of the best fast food franchises around

We have some great franchising opportunities for veterans and civilians alike. Just fill out the short, no-obligation form on this page to start a conversation. You can also learn more about our brand by exploring our research pages.

The brand power of A&W drives sales

How a well-established business like A&W franchise can help you succeed

We’ve seen same-store sales increase by over 33% since franchisees bought the brand in 2011.


When it comes to deciding on a restaurant franchise to invest in, never underestimate the power of brand recognition. It gives A&W marketing a great boost and helps drive customers in and keep them coming back.

For almost a century, our mouth-watering food and friendly service have kept guests coming through our doors. Our quick, friendly service is well-known, too: Readers Digest recently ranked us among the Most Convenient Fast Food Restaurants, based on a survey that showed 65% of respondents said convenience was the reason for their most recent A&W visit.

That indicates some powerful brand loyalty, helping transform top-line sales into bottom-line profits.

A&W marketing boosts local sales

Our same-store sales have increased over 33% since franchisees purchased A&W restaurant franchises in 2011. A&W is an iconic American restaurant franchise that has been in the game for 99 years — long enough to gain a good reputation and a loyal following. Our operators recognized that they could turn the brand around and make it relevant again to a whole new generation of loyal fans.

A hamburger and onion rings rest on A&W branded tissue paper on an outdoor table with a mug of root beer behind them.

Customers love our brand for many reasons, and the food is No. 1 on their list. We leverage that brand loyalty in A&W marketing programs.

Our hip nostalgia and delicious All-American food is a huge draw. In addition to helping you build sales based on our brand reputation, A&W marketing experts will help you promote your store by tailoring a marketing plan that’s uniquely suited for your community. We’ll guide you on things like local ad spend and social media management while providing you with the latest point-of-purchase materials for your locations. We are there with you every step of the way.

“We have a Focus Call process where we bring in the restaurant owner, the manager, one of our field operations team members and a member of the marketing team. We go through a very detailed process of identifying what their trade area looks like, what competition is in the area, and how to tailor a plan to address each restaurant’s specific needs,” says Vice President of Marketing Sarah Blasi.

Fresh momentum draws new fans

A&W has been around a long time, but we’ve still got some new moves. We’re gaining more and more loyal fans thanks to our and our emphasis on franchisee input, which has helped us develop new menu items that are pleasing for both customers and the bottom line.

As President & CEO Kevin Bazner pointed out in an interview with Franchise Times, A&W has some exciting momentum afoot with our brand resurgence. “So far, here in the U.S., 60 percent of the brand’s new builds have come from existing operators, including several previously hesitant franchisees who have now decided against exiting the business and are in the process of passing the business down to a younger generation.”

We are now focused on sharing our franchising opportunities with new investors from outside our existing franchise community.

Find out more

If you’d like to know more about the franchise opportunity with A&W Restaurants, please fill out the short, no-obligation form on this page to start a conversation. You can also learn more about our brand by exploring our research pages.