2021 is shaping up as another monumental year for A&W Restaurants as it approaches 10th anniversary of being acquired by franchisees. In the first quarter, A&W signed development agreements with two new operators, while three current franchise partners committed to additional locations. The brand’s first quarter sales leaped 22 percent compared to 2020, when comp-sales were up more than 20 percent over the first quarter of 2019. Single-brand locations reported a Q1 sales increase of nearly 25 percent, with c-store units up nearly 20 percent. A&W is now focused on developing single-brand and c-store restaurants with drive-thrus. Since the acquisition in late 2011, comp-sales are up more than 50 percent.
The newest A&Ws will open before Memorial Day in travel centers. One is located in Jefferson, Wisconsin, between Milwaukee and Madison. The other is in Yermo, California, along busy Interstate 15 that stretches from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. Agreements signed so far this year will bring new restaurants to Clark County, Nevada, Pocatello, Idaho, Sioux City, South Dakota and Emmetsburg, Iowa. The A&W in Oak Ridge, Oregon, which closed last May, is being reopened by a new franchisee.
“A&W had tremendous sales momentum leading up to the pandemic,” says John Palumbo, who was recently appointed senior director of Development. “Over the last year, it has become even more apparent that A&W is extremely well positioned to keep growing. Our brand awareness, large number of open territories and flexibility make A&W very appealing to prospective franchise partners.” A&W is expanding the incentives available to new operators. Franchise fees for multi-unit agreements are being reduced by as much as 50 percent. Royalties also are being discounted for the first two years of operations. The standard franchise fee of $30,000 is being reduced to $15,000 for veterans.
Now in its 102nd year, A&W is America’s first franchised restaurant chain. Known for its All American Food, as well as Root Beer that is made fresh in each restaurant and served in frosty mugs, there are more than 900 A&Ws in the U.S. and Asia.