A&W Restaurants Inc. has signed its largest multi-unit deal since the brand was acquired from Yum! Brands by a group of franchisees in late 2011. The development plan calls for eight restaurants to open over eight years in Northwest Ohio.
“This agreement points to the power of the A&W brand and to the strength of our turnaround,” CEO Kevin Bazner says. “We added 15 domestic locations in 2017, and we expect to open another 15 this year.”
A&W has nearly 1,000 locations worldwide, with more than 630 in the U.S. The iconic brand has seen an average sales increase of over 30 percent between 2011 and 2017.
After acquiring A&W from Yum!, the chain focused on stabilizing the business and growing profitable store sales. Once those initiatives were well underway, the brand embarked on an aggressive growth strategy. It recently expanded the efforts with the launch of a new franchise information website and progressive digital media strategy.
The eight new restaurants in Northwest Ohio will be opened by Rooty’s Family Restaurants LLC, which already owns an A&W location in Delphos. Groundbreaking for the first restaurant in Lima is set for April, with the opening planned by July 4. All the new restaurants will be freestanding units within 1.5 hours of Lima.
“Consumers love the A&W brand, and I love that it’s owned by restaurant operators,” says Rooty’s principal Don Unruh, a former Taco Bell franchisee who operated 30 locations but left the chain three years ago. “A&W leadership knows how to make decisions today that we’re all prepared to live with tomorrow. As franchisees we provide input to every decision that affects the brand.”
After leaving Taco Bell, Unruh bought the Delphos A&W in 2016. His son, Schuyler, is the manager.
With more than 1,100 locations worldwide, A&W is America’s oldest restaurant chain. A&W Root Beer is still made 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 alongside burgers, fries, chicken tenders and other All American Food favorites.