As A&W Restaurants prepares to celebrate its centennial, chief operating officer Paul Martino has been given additional duties and named president and chief operating officer for the brand’s U.S. business, says chief executive Kevin Bazner.

Martino has spent more than 20 years with A&W, most recently as COO. He first joined the brand in 1991 and held positions including district supervisor and vice president of Operations. He returned to the brand in 2011 when a group of franchisees acquired A&W from YUM! Brands. In addition to continuing to oversee A&W’s operations, marketing, IT and restaurant support center teams, he will now be responsible for A&W’s U.S. franchise development efforts.

“Since being acquired by our franchisees, A&W has opened more than 60 new U.S. restaurants,” says Bazner. “We are preparing to enter an era of accelerated growth, and Paul’s leadership will be critical to both attracting new franchise partners as well as supporting those currently in the system.”

Late last year, A&W restructured its franchise development department, adding veteran franchise sales executive Dave Crowley as director of Franchise Recruitment.

“A&W’s future is bright. The brand has name recognition, a positive growth trajectory and a solid leadership team in place. We’ve all got a long history with A&W, and we’re committed to growing this great brand,” adds Martino. “As COO, my focus has been on helping our franchise partners build profitable sales. I’m very excited to now also be working to expand the A&W system.”

One of America’s first chain restaurants, A&W poured its first mug of frosty root beer at a parade honoring World War 1 veterans in Lodi, California, in 1919. Today, there are nearly 1,000 restaurants worldwide, with more than 630 in the U.S.

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