LEXINGTON, Ky. – Five new A&W Restaurants have opened in convenience stores so far in 2017, with six more in development. The quick-service restaurant (QSR) chain said it is “back in growth mode” with a new franchise initiative, targeting convenience stores as well as traditional franchisees nationwide.
The new restaurants are in c-stores in Barron, Wis.; Tonkawa, Okla.; Dinuba, Calif.; Sigourney, Iowa; and Orbisonia, Pa. Future c-store locations include Freemont, Neb.; Bemidji, Minn.; Berkeley and Hayward, Calif.; Salome, Ariz.; and Mount Pleasant, Iowa.
Lexington, Ky.-based A&W this year also has opened two traditional restaurants, with five more planned for 2017. The brand opened 15 restaurants in 2016.
“Current and new franchisees are expressing their confidence in the A&W brand by signing development agreements, opening restaurants across the country and participating in our system remodeling program,” said Kevin Bazner, president and CEO. “It is gratifying that many of our new restaurants are being opened by current franchise partners. "Currently, there are 30 remodeling projects underway. More than 100 A&W Restaurants co-branded with KFC locations are scheduled for remodeling in 2017. A&W locations are consistently experiencing double-digit sales increases following renovations.”
In late 2011, with sales suffering and the system losing units, a core group of franchisees purchased the brand from Yum! Brands, Louisville, Ky., which owned A&W for nine years. Kevin Bazner, A&W’s president prior to the Yum! acquisition, returned as president and CEO.
For the first time in more than 10 years, A&W Restaurants is reporting systemwide revenue and store-count growth, according to the company. In February, it began a new franchise sales initiative. The development program includes a new franchising website, a public relations firm, increased advertising and greater visibility at trade shows.
There are 634 U.S. A&W sites, and about 375 of them are co-branded with KFC or Long John Silver’s restaurants. There are 87 c-store locations. Internationally, there are 328 A&W restaurants. So far this year, 22 international A&W locations have opened, primarily in Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia.
A&W makes root beer fresh in the restaurants from real cane sugar, water and a proprietary blend of herbs, bark, spices and berries that are served in a frosty mug. Its menu includes burgers, fries, chicken tenders and other “all-American food favorites.”