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Interview With A&W Chairman And CEO, Kevin Bazner

Kevin Bazner, CEO of A&W, Discusses Franchise Opportunities

Why would entrepreneurs invest in A&W?

There are a couple of reasons why you would choose A&W over another brand. One is that we have strong brand recognition globally—not just nationally, but globally. That’s incredibly important when you’re evaluating investment opportunities with any brand.

Another reason is that we have a lot of development opportunities. We’ve got a lot of whitespace, as it’s referred to in the industry. We have a lot of places where people can go and develop.

Thirdly, we have a focus on profitability and responsible new store development. We will discourage a franchise partner from going into a location or developing a piece of real estate where we don’t believe that they can win. We’re looking for long term success for a franchise partner. We work with a franchise partner to find out what the best ROI opportunity is for them. Is it that vacant piece of dirt and a freestanding building? Is it a conversion? Is it a gas and convenience store? Is it a mall food court location, etc? We’ve got great brand awareness, we’ve got great quality products, our strategy for the last 12 years has been on quality as our long-term value proposition, and it’s working. I know it’s working because we’ve got 11 years of same store sales increases.

Outside and A&W

What makes now a great time to invest?

It’s a great time to invest in A&W. We’ve spent the last 11 years building the infrastructure. After going through a global pandemic, we’ve picked up where we left off. Our ownership, looking at the long-term view that they have of the business, did not cut staff. We kept staff and development teams in place so that when we got to the other side of the pandemic we wouldn’t lose momentum. Today, we’re stronger for it. We had record years in 2020 and 2021. Our same store sales since 2019 are up 30%. We currently have a trend of positive transactions going on in the system, and combining that with the initiatives we have in place, I don’t see an end in sight in the foreseeable future for our ability to continue to build on that.

How do you view the future of A&W?

In the coming years, this brand is positioned to achieve several things. We are slowly but surely accelerating our growth of new franchise restaurants in our system. We’ve never set out to open the most restaurants — we set out to build an infrastructure that allows us to successfully support a profitable new restaurant opening. We’ve been more about quality than quantity. But those quantities are starting to go up. Over the next three to five years, we see our growth increasing year by year in terms of new development. Additionally, we have good positive momentum going on right now: our same store sales have grown by over 70%. We have initiatives in place as well as an increased media strategy that we’re working on to continue that same store sales growth over the next three to five years.

A&W Rootbeer in Mug

What makes a successful A&W franchise partner?

I think it’s really a passion for the food service business, and ultimately a passion for A&W restaurants as a brand. Of course you want franchisees to have that business acumen, but more importantly, someone who is going to participate in their community, somebody that’s going to embed themselves, if they’re not already. The communities that we do well in  are very family-oriented. Think about the little league baseball games, the soccer tournaments, that’s a big part of our business in rural America. Entrepreneurs who can successfully embed themselves in those communities, whether they’re a transplant or not, make the most successful operators. That A&W operator is the customer’s neighbor, not just an unknown faceless organization.

Learn More About Franchising with A&W

Ready to learn more about owning an A&W Restaurant franchise? This is your chance to work with a beloved legacy brand that is poised for even more growth in the years to come. Learn more about our exciting franchise opportunities by visiting our research pages here. To get a conversation started with us about whether we can help you achieve your entrepreneurial goals, fill out our form here Once we’ve reviewed your submission, we’ll get in touch with you to provide more details about franchising with A&W. We look forward to hearing from you!

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For real estate inquiries, location submissions, or inquiries from real estate brokers, please contact us at realestate@awrestaurants.com.