Oldies But Goodies

Getting back to their roots raises profits for A&W franchisees.
Magazine Contributor
2 min read

This story appears in the July 2000 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

With all the millennial buzz about the future, it's nice to know one franchise is blasting to the past. For more than 80 years, A&W restaurants have been serving their root beer, and now franchisees are getting on the nostalgia bandwagon and watching their profits soar.

One of A&W's newest owners is Sean Ryan, who operates two units in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Ryan, 29, opened his first unit in October 1999 out of a Shell convenience store. Sales were so phenomenal, he decided to open his second store in April 2000. "The A&W brand is representative in the consumer's mind of those times they miss," says Ryan.

A&W's design department has gone so far as to coin the phrase "contemporized nostalgia" when referring to their unique dining experience. "The funny thing is some of the colors, images, icons and the brand logo are all the same as they were years ago. But in terms of design and cleanliness, it's a modernized version," Ryan says.

With start-up costs of $200,000 to $250,000, Ryan says he's generating sales of $2,000 to $3,000 a day, even during the slow winter months. Jukeboxes and old-fashioned booths aside, what A&W is capitalizing on is the memory of a much simpler time. "The big thing that our customers have always enjoyed and expected is the ice cold root beer in that famous frosted glass mug," Ryan says. "That there is the essence of A&W.


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