Just two months shy of A&W Restaurants’ 100th anniversary, its Second Century Growth Initiative is kicking into high gear with the opening of a flagship company-owned restaurant in Singapore’s new Jewel Changi Airport. It is the latest of at least 45 international and domestic locations expected to open this year.
A&W returned to Singapore April 17 after a 16-year absence. In 1966 it was the first American quick-service restaurant to enter the country and remains beloved throughout Southeast Asia. Guests waited up to three hours for Root Beer Floats and Coney Dogs, as well as other all-American and regional favorites.
Jewel Changi Airport is both an urban center for local residents and an international hub. Open 24 hours, the 80-seat A&W is testing menu and service initiatives to be used in future locations. A total of 35 restaurants will open this year across Southeast Asia, where A&W is focusing much of its international expansion.
In the U.S., A&W currently has 17 franchised U.S. restaurants in various stages of development, with five to open in May and June. Two new franchisees recently signed agreements for restaurants in Las Vegas and Tonopah, Nevada, with the Tonopah A&W the brand’s first hotel and casino location. New development agreements also were signed earlier this year for Bingham Lake, Minn., Prescott Valley, Ariz. and Yermo, Calif.
“Since A&W franchisees acquired the company in 2011, we’ve been working to rebuild the brand worldwide,” says CEO Kevin Bazner. “The amazing responses to our Singapore return, combined with the interest we are seeing from new U.S. franchisees, clearly show that A&W is a second-century growth brand.”
Earlier this year, A&W announced an incentive plan consisting of lower royalties for new U.S. franchisees. On June 20, it will become the first American restaurant chain to turn 100. There are currently more than 960 restaurants worldwide—597 in the U.S. and 372 in Asia.
A&W still makes Root Beer fresh in each restaurant from real cane sugar, water and a proprietary blend of herbs, bark, spices and berries that are served in a frosty mug alongside burgers, fries, chicken tenders and other All American Food favorites.