A&W Restaurants Inc., founded in 1919, making it the oldest fast food company in the world, has been acquired by A Great American Brand LLC, a partnership of domestic and international A&W Restaurant franchisees, from YUM! Brands Inc.

Kevin Bazner, A&W chief executive officer, who was A&W Restaurants president from 1999 to 2003, announced the transaction from the new A&W headquarters in Lexington, Kentucky. Terms were not disclosed.

“Our new owners, our franchisees, truly believe that A&W can profitably grow sales by focusing our unique positioning in the [quick-service restaurant] industry based on our heritage, service, and product quality,” Bazner says. “We know we can effectively compete in [quick-service] with our relevant line of burgers, sandwiches, desserts, and of course our unique signature made-fresh A&W Draft Root Beer.”

Bazner says many A&W Restaurant key support staff were retained under the new ownership, to help insure a smooth transition.

“We have a team of owners and support staff who share a common goal of growing this famous brand,” he says.

Bazner says that they would continue to support all A&W single and multibrand locations. There are currently 1,200 restaurants including 350 international stores in 15 countries and territories.

A&W was founded as a Root Beer stand by Roy Allen, who used a formula purchased from an Arizona pharmacist, which consisted of a unique blend of juices from 16 herbs, spices, barks, and berries. Allen sold the cold, creamy root beer for a nickel a mug on a downtown corner in Lodi, California. The venue proved so popular that the company expanded to four sites and the concession evolved into a “drive-in.” Allen approached employee Frank Wright and the two formed a partnership, which became A&W.

The brand endured over the years and it was acquired by its outgoing owners in 2003.

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