As A&W celebrates its centennial, the company is preparing for its next century with the opening this month of a new national learning center and prototype restaurant in Richmond, Kentucky. A&W, which was acquired by its franchisees from YUM! Brands in 2011, has welcomed more than 70 U.S. locations under the new leadership; a dozen more are in various stages of development.

Located less than a half-hour from A&W’s headquarters, the Richmond restaurant is the first freestanding “Gen19” prototype that takes a holistic approach to guest engagement. The nostalgic design blends core A&W brand characteristics with contemporary elements, giving a familiar yet new feel. The color scheme combines signature A&W orange with earthy grays. Retro neon signage, updated seating and pop art murals complete the look. Behind the scenes, efficiency improvements enhance productivity.

The facility also is the new home of A&W University, an educational resource center for new franchisees and team members from around the country. It features a classroom setting along with hands-on experience in the adjoining restaurant, allowing participants to master A&W’s operational standards. Training previously was held at the corporate office and a Lexington restaurant.

“Whether it’s our freshly made Root Beer and floats or our food, A&W offers guests a unique menu and experience,” says Kevin Bazner, CEO. “This learning center is key to helping our franchisees succeed as they introduce the A&W brand to a new generation of guests.”

A&W was founded in Lodi, California, in 1919. Today there are about 1,000 restaurants worldwide.

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