Happy 100th to Coldstream Neighbor A&W!


A&W Restaurants, long-term corporate citizen of Kentucky and resident of University of Kentucky Coldstream Research Campus for seven years, celebrated 100 years of refreshing America’s taste buds on June 20, the first American restaurant chain to reach that elusive century mark.
 
As root beer swiftly became the household beverage of choice, A&W Restaurants invented its famous accompaniment, the thick and juicy, sigh-worthy bacon cheeseburger. As the nation rushed for that spectacular combination of burger and root beer, A&W became today’s multi-billion-dollar global franchise restaurant industry.
 
A&W Restaurants, Inc. is the global headquarters for restaurants located within the United States, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan and Bangladesh. The company provides franchisees with the marketing and operational support it takes to run a successful restaurant.
 
When California entrepreneur Roy Allen thought to try his secret recipe of herbs, bark, spices and berries at a parade honoring World War I veterans in the small town of Lodi, in northern California, he sold the first frosty 10-ounce mug of A&W at a refreshment stand for a nickel. His secret recipe was an instant sensation.
 
So, we know where the “A” in A&W originated – Roy Allen. The “W” is Frank Wright, Allen’s partner in the root beer phenomenon.  Allen and Wright first opened A&Ws throughout California. Franchising of roadside restaurants started in 1925 as America embraced that new-fangled horseless carriage and well-maintained roads became a necessity.  Naturally, it wasn’t long before A&W signs popped up around the country. An early root beer aficionado, J. Willard Marriott (as in the hospitality empire) opened A&Ws in Washington, D.C., launching what would become the Marriott hospitality empire.
 
Put roads, cars and hungry people together, and it wasn’t long (the 1950s and 60s) for the drive-in restaurant phenomenon conquered America. A&W grew rapidly in the years following World War II, with many returning soldiers using GI Bill loans to open franchises. The chain is credited with creating Its Modesto, California, restaurant was the inspiration for the classic film “American Graffiti.”
 
In 1963, Dale Mulder, a young A&W franchisee, invented the ooey-gooey bacon cheeseburger. Mulder became president of A&W and remains chairman today. Muldor took A&W international in 1963, when he opened A&Ws in Malaysia, making it the first American restaurant chain to expand to Southeast Asia. That year, it also became the first American hamburger chain to open in Okinawa, Japan. Three years later, A&W began serving guests in Singapore.
 
“There’s a lot of history in 100 years, but our longtime connection to veterans is a common thread,” said CEO Kevin Bazner. “That’s why we are especially pleased to again be supporting Disabled American Veterans – DAV – as part of our celebration.”
 
To commemorate its centennial, A&W created a book of memories and photos fans and former employees submitted. Sales benefit DAV, visit A&W Merchandise Store. A&W has also also kicked off its annual summer fundraising campaign for DAV, which culminates on National Root Beer Float Day, Aug. 6.
 
Bazner noted that A&W has survived recessions, wars, the Great Depression, sugar shortages, competition and 11 ownership changes.
 
“Today, A&W is the strongest it has been in decades, in part because we have returned to our roots, literally – serving freshly made Root Beer in frosted mugs along with all-American food favorites,” he said.
 
There are about 1,000 A&W restaurants around the world today, with almost 600 in the U.S. A&W is owned by its franchisees, who acquired it from YUM! Brands in 2011. Forty-five new A&Ws are scheduled to open this year.