A&W’s newest restaurant is located in the historic Wild West town of Tonopah, Nevada, inside the Mizpah Club casino. It is adjacent to the landmark “Jewel of the Desert” Mizpah Hotel. The restaurant, which opened January 27, has enjoyed sales exceeding the franchise partner’s expectations.
“I’ve seen the same people coming in four times a day,“ said Ramsey Cline, franchisee. “I’ve seen people getting two and three Root Beer Floats a day. We ran out of Sriracha Cheese Curds in the first week.” Cline added Sriracha Cheese Curds are back in stock.
The approximately 50-seat restaurant replaced a non-branded café. The décor utilizes A&W’s latest “hip nostalgic” orange and brown design, with the addition of historic murals, including a 1913 panoramic town photo. The café’s historic worldwide hotel key collection remains. A&W’s root beer is made fresh in the restaurant. Root Beer Floats and double-patty Papa Burgers are guest favorites. Tonopah, midway between Reno and Las Vegas near the junction of U.S. Routes 6 and 95, is part of Nevada’s Silver Trail, a popular tourist route showcasing the state’s mining history. It also is convenient to Humbolt-Toiyabe National Forest.
Cline explained why he brought A&W to Tonopah.
“A&W is over 100 years old. It is authentic to the timeframe of an old Western town," he said. "There could have been an A&W in Tonopah during its heyday.”
Cline, whose great-great uncle Harry Ramsey prospected for silver in Tonopah, grew up loving A&W. He fondly recalled frequent stops at the A&W in San Rafael, California, after high school sporting events.
“This restaurant is a perfect example of our strategy to expand into smaller markets around the country,” said Dave Crowley, A&W director of franchise recruitment. “The most successful A&Ws are more than places to eat, they’re a part of their communities, owned and run by franchisees who have a real connection to the brand and to their guests.
Cline’s mother, Nancy, who researched the family’s genealogy and discovered its Tonopah history, purchased the 1907 Mizpah Hotel along with her husband, Fred Cline. In 2011 they reopened the renovated five-story, Victorian-era hotel that at one time had been the tallest building with one of the first electric elevators in Nevada. The Mizpah Hotel also is known for being haunted by the “Lady in Red,” who died in the early 1900s.
A community dedication will be held at A&W during the 50th Annual Jim Butler Days, May 19-25. The traditional Memorial Day celebration commemorates Jim Butler’s discovery of silver deposits in the Tonopah area during the early 1900s.
Tonopah’s A&W is open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. On Fridays and Saturdays, the restaurant is open until midnight.