|Type||Wholly owned subsidiary|
|Founded||Lodi, California, United States (1919 )|
|Founder(s)||Roy W. Allen
|Headquarters||Lexington, Kentucky, United States|
|Number of locations||1,200|
|Area served||16 countries and territories|
|Products||Hot dogs, root beer, cheese curds, hamburgers, chicken|
|Parent||A Great American Brand LLC|
A&W Restaurants, Inc., is a chain of fast-food restaurants distinguished by its draft root beer and root beer floats. A&W was arguably the first successful food franchise company, starting franchises in 1921 in California. The company name was taken from the surname initials of partners Roy W. Allen and Frank Wright. The company became famous in the United States for its "frosty mugs," where the mug would be kept in the freezer prior to being filled with root beer and served to the customer.
Today, it has franchise locations throughout much of the world, serving a typical fast food menu of hamburgers and french fries, as well as hot dogs. A number of its outlets are drive-in restaurants with carhops. Previously owned by Yum! Brands, the chain was sold to a consortium of A&W franchisees, through A Great American Brand LLC, in December 2011.
A&W began in June 1919 at 13 Pine Street Lodi, California, when Frank Wright partnered with Roy Allen to help Wright with the root beer business he started that year. They branded their product A&W Root Beer after their surnames. In 1921, Allen began franchising the drink, arguably the first successful food-franchising operation. His profits came from a small franchise fee and sales.
By 1960, A&W had 2000 stores. In 1971, a beverage division began, supplying bottled A&W products to grocery stores. The soft drinks sold under A&W are root beer and cream soda made by Dr Pepper/Seven Up, Inc.
In the 1970s, A&W had more stores than McDonald's. Oshkosh, Wisconsin franchise manager Jim Brajdic said: "Problems back then, including a lawsuit, franchisee discontent and inconsistencies in the operation, caused the chain to flounder and branches to close."
In 1989, A&W made an agreement with Minnesota-based Carousel Snack Bars to convert that chain's 200 stores (mostly kiosks in shopping malls) to A&W Hot Dogs & More. Some A&W Hot Dogs & More are still operating. In late 2000s, A&W added franchises with a nostalgic look and modern technology. They have a carhop design with drive-thrus and some have picnic tables.
A&W opened its first outlet in Bangladesh on 15 December 2010. This 170-seat outlet is located at Gulshan 1, Dhaka is the largest A&W outlet in South Asia. The food served is 100% halal and is very popular with the local youth population, with root beer being the driving force of the large number of sales. A&W Bangladesh serves an "All you can eat offer" during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and "Boishakhi Bonanza" during the Bengali new year.
Before 2011, A&W (besides Canada), was a Yum! Brands, Inc. company. Most A&W stores that opened in the U.S. in recent years were co-branded with another of Yum!'s chains—Long John Silver's, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, or Kentucky Fried Chicken.
In January 2011, Yum! Brands announced its intention to sell A&W along with Long John Silver's. Citing poor sales for both divisions, Yum! planned to focus on international expansion for its remaining brands, with particular emphasis on growth in China. In September 2011, Yum! announced that they would sell the chain to A Great American Brand LLC, a consortium of various A&W franchisees, both in the United States and overseas. The sale was finalized on December 19, 2011.
See also 
- Sloan, Scott (9 December 2011). "A&W returning headquarters to Lexington". Lexington Herald-Leader. Retrieved 20 July 2012.
- "A&W History". A&W Restaurants, Inc. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
- "It’s Final! Franchisees Buy Out Franchisor A&W". Blue Maumau. 23 December 2011. Retrieved 20 July 2012.
- Where the Songs Linger, but the Tune Is Different, by Martain Flacker, New York Times, 20 February 2012
- Wallenfang, Maureen (2008-09-24). "A&W chain banks on state for its rebirth". Appleton (Wis.) Post-Crescent. pp. A–10.
- "A&W Root Beer - History & Collectables".
- George Michel (1991). "A&W prexy sets pace for growth in the '90s - A&W Restaurants". Nation's Restaurant News.
- "Hott Dhaka". Retrieved 27 November 2011.
- Patton, Leslie (22 September 2011). "Yum Sells A&W, Long John Silver’s Chains to Focus on Expansion in China". Bloomberg. Retrieved 20 July 2012.
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