A&W Acquired by A Great American Brand

Published in CSP Daily News

Franchisee partnership picks up iconic brand from Yum

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- A&W Restaurants Inc., 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., the Louisville, Ky.-based chain of fast-food brand names.

Kevin Bazner, A&W CEO, who was A&W Restaurants president from 1999 to 2003, announced the transaction from the new A&W headquarters in Lexington. 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 QSR [quick-service restaurant] industry based on our heritage, service and product quality," Bazner said. "We know we can effectively compete in QSR with our relevant line of burgers, sandwiches, desserts, and of course our unique signature made-fresh A&W Draft Root Beer."

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

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

Bazner said 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, Calif. 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.