Frequently Asked Questions

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What do the A and W stand for in A&W?

The A stands for founder Roy W. Allen, who started the brand in 1919, and the W is for his business partner Frank Wright, who joined him in 1922. A&W is the oldest restaurant franchise in the U.S.

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Who owns A&W Restaurants, Inc.?

A group of franchisees purchased the U.S. brand in 2011. Our President and CEO is Kevin Bazner, and the company is governed by a board of franchisee representatives who serve two-year terms on the National A&W Franchisees Association board, or NAWFA.

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How many locations do you have?

As of 2017, A&W has more than 625 restaurants in the continental U.S. and Alaska, and 340 units internationally

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Does A&W own the Root Beer sold in retail stores?

Not anymore. A&W Restaurants Inc. owns the exclusive right to dispense fountain A&W Root Beer in the restaurants only. No other restaurants or stores may dispense fountain A&W Root Beer. The bottle and canning is owned separately by Dr Pepper Snapple, with whom we maintain a very good working relationship.

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What makes A&W different from other concepts?

No decisions are made without input from NAWFA, our franchisee association board. Since franchisees own the brand, the company is guided based on what’s best for franchisees in the field. In addition, every member of our corporate office in Lexington, KY, works in an A&W restaurant at least once a quarter. And, of course, we have our original hand-crafted signature beverage, A&W Root Beer.

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How does A&W help franchisees win customers?

Our marketing strategies and support help franchisees bring guests in, and our focus on the community brings them back. We can help you more directly reach consumers in your area through targeted social media and other digital marketing, and with modern online video platforms like YouTube, we can even do compelling video advertising at a fraction of the cost of traditional television.

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What are the costs to start an A&W franchise?

With the scalable investments and multiple store footprints available at A&W, you can get started with our iconic American brand more easily and affordably, whether you plan to run a single store or operate multiple units. The range of A&W startup costs varies based on the type of restaurant you plan to open:
Inline restaurant: $288,500 – $992,000
Freestanding restaurant: $778,500 – $1,468,000
Captive restaurant: $163,500 – $660,500

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Who’s qualified to purchase an A&W restaurant franchise?

We require franchise candidates to have a minimum liquidity of $150,000 as well as a net worth of at least $350,000.

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How much can I make?

With almost 30% same-store sales growth on average since 2011 and current franchisees expanding into multi-unit ownership, the A&W revenue opportunity is growing increasingly stronger. Since the brand is owned by franchisees, every decision we make is geared toward sustainable sales growth and profitability, rather than short-term gains for a disinterested investor.

While we can’t make any guarantee on how much revenue you’ll make, we can put you in touch with franchisees who can discuss the performance of their own stores.

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What territories are available?

We have availability nationwide, and our adaptable store footprints allow for plenty of flexibility, whether you’re looking at large markets, small towns or anywhere in between. Our iconic American concept works well in a number of different types of markets, thanks to our broad appeal and the structural advantages that A&W has for franchisees, like our extensive distribution network.

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Will A&W work in my small town?

A&W has a long history of success in small towns that other restaurant franchises overlook. We have many franchisees who operate restaurants in small towns that pick up guest traffic from tourism as well as drawing in people from out of town who are nostalgic about our brand. Our distribution system allows us to keep operating costs low, even in out-of-the-way areas.

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How does A&W keep operating costs low?

We utilize a strategic brand partnership with Restaurant Supply Chain Solutions, which is a supplier and distributor for three of the biggest chains in the nation – Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell. We leverage their reach and buying power to provide the lowest food, paper and equipment costs possible to our franchisees.

Day photo of an A&W restaurant pictured from the entrance of the drive thru

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