Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A&W All-American Food Restaurants Predicted to go Bottoms-Up

Yes these are the places where A&W Root Beer flows freely from a draft dispenser typically landing into a glass frosty mug. Along with the root beer they serve traditional American fare including burgers and hot dogs. These venues have been spotted all across the country and at times even paired with other restaurants such as Long John Silver's, KFC, Pizza Hut, and even Taco Bell. Over the years they have even been known to be in mall food courts often going by the name of A&W Hot Dogs & More. Yes this is what you may already know about this amazing chain of brew making, American food grilling, frosty mug serving fast food joints. What you may not know is that these were in fact the FIRST Successful Franchises in America!!!!

I know what you are thinking..... Adam are you drinking that "other" beer? Most of us would just be happy believing that McDonald's was the first. The fact of the matter is that I love the story of McDonald's and Ray Kroc so much that I too would love to live in that happy place. The reality is that A&W came first!!!

After Roy Allen and Frank Wright perfected their root beer they began selling franchises in 1921 and by the 1960's they had sold over 2000 franchises. Ray Kroc didn't even meet the McDonald brothers until the 1950's..... so what happened??? Unfortunately the reality is this..... Allen & Wright knew root beer and Ray Kroc knew business!!!! So in the long run the A&W franchise did continue to roll forward, just not with the force of McDonald's. The other sad truth is that they have slowly dwindled over the years and current numbers are very disappointing, there are roughly only 1000 locations and over half of these are paired with another restaurant. An even more disappointing fact is that earlier this year the current parent company announced that due to dwindling market share they were going to sell the A&W All American Food brand.

To be clear, this is in no way connected with the actual root beer. A&W Root Beer is owned by Dr Pepper/Seven Up Inc. and remains the top selling brew by a long shot. The inspired restaurant chain branched from the actual root beer ownership very early in the history of the brand. But with the recent declining sales and being placed up for sale the restaurant chain, which certainly helped the brand gain great lengths in being a recognizable root beer across the country, is predicted to come to an end. An annual report by 24/7 Wall St. which outlines predictions for the failure of brands in the coming year listed the A&W restaurant chain within their top 10 for 2011. Their prediction results in times past have been mixed but these are the very people that predicted the demise of Blockbuster Video and T-Mobile. It is unclear what the future of the frosty mug and draft A&W looks like, but it is certain that the waters are currently very rough.


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