A&W history

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. Almost 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.

Here’s how our story unfolds:

1919

IT ALL STARTED WITH A ROADSIDE STAND…

Roy W. Allen opened his first Root Beer stand in Lodi, CA, on June 20. It was a hot night that coincided with a city-wide party celebrating the homecoming of local World War I heroes.

1922

Allen partnered with former Lodi employee Frank Wright and leased their first two Root Beer stands to other operators so they could expand into the larger city of Sacramento. This was around the same time the partners coined the new name A&W®, “A” for Allen and “W” for Wright.

1922

Allen partnered with former Lodi employee Frank Wright and leased their first two Root Beer stands to other operators so they could expand into the larger city of Sacramento. This was around the same time the partners coined the new name A&W®, “A” for Allen and “W” for Wright.

1925

Allen began to sell franchises to others, thus establishing the first franchise restaurant chain in America.

1950

Thanks to the postwar boom and the prevalence of G.I. loans, there was a flurry of new development and nearly 450 operating A&Ws. Allen sold the entire operation to the A&W Root Beer Co., a California company.

1950

Thanks to the postwar boom and the prevalence of G.I. loans, there was a flurry of new development and nearly 450 operating A&Ws. Allen sold the entire operation to the A&W Root Beer Co., a California company.

1956

GOING INTERNATIONAL

A&W went international, opening the first restaurants in Winnipeg and Montreal, Canada. A&W Canada was sold and currently operates independently of A&W in the United States.

1963

BACON, MEET CHEESEBURGER

A&W expanded to the Philippines, Malaysia, and Okinawa, Japan. Meanwhile, in the U.S., the Original Bacon Cheeseburger was born.

1963

BACON, MEET CHEESEBURGER

A&W expanded to the Philippines, Malaysia, and Okinawa, Japan. Meanwhile, in the U.S., the Original Bacon Cheeseburger was born.

1969

A&W celebrated its 50th Anniversary.

1971

A&W Root Beer became available in bottles and cans.

1971

A&W Root Beer became available in bottles and cans.

1974

Rooty the Great Root Bear™ was born.

1994

The 100th International Restaurant was opened in Thailand.

1994

The 100th International Restaurant was opened in Thailand.

1999

In conjunction with A&W’s 80th Anniversary, the world’s largest Root Beer Float was created. 2,562.5 gallons of Root Beer were used to break the world record.

2003

100% Real Wisconsin White Cheddar Cheese Curds were introduced.

2003

100% Real Wisconsin White Cheddar Cheese Curds were introduced.

2011

A GREAT AMERICAN BRAND

A&W was purchased by a group of domestic and international A&W Franchise Partners.

2017

2017 & Beyond – THE FUTURE IS NOW

There are approximately 1,000 restaurants (& counting) in the U.S. and Southeast Asia. An estimated 45 new restaurant openings are planned for 2017 between the U.S. and international markets.

2017

2017 & Beyond – THE FUTURE IS NOW

There are approximately 1,000 restaurants (& counting) in the U.S. and Southeast Asia. An estimated 45 new restaurant openings are planned for 2017 between the U.S. and international markets.

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