Yes, it’s the food and the atmosphere. But A&W’s hip nostalgia is scientifically proven to make people feel better.


As we’re celebrating our 100th anniversary this year, our particular brand of hip nostalgia is standing out more than ever. A&W Restaurants have been around since the summer of 1919 when we opened our first Root Beer stand in Lodi, CA, and our customers have been making fond memories ever since. The fact that we’ve been around so long is part of the reason our customers keep coming back, and bringing new generations with them.

We’re still a thoroughly modern fast food franchise, with sophisticated business systems that rely on the latest technology. Our ownership structure has guided us through a brand resurgence. Franchisees brought out the brand in 2011. Since then, A&W Restaurants have enjoyed a nearly 33% increase in average same-store sales.

Why nostalgia is driving guest traffic

Pete Knight owns A&W franchises in St. Helena and Lodi, CA, where it all began. His relationship with the brand goes back a lot further than 1995, when he opened his first A&W Restaurant. “My favorite A&W memories are of going to the A&W Drive-In in San Rafael, CA, where they had carhops, and eating a cheeseburger and fries in the back seat of our family car with my mom, dad and little sister,” says Knight, who went to work as a cook for A&W when he was a teenager in the 1970s.

Knight worked his way up through management and eventually became a franchisee. He loves the value A&W still places on nostalgia. “We serve our root beer in frosty glass mugs like Roy Allen did in 1919,” he told the San Francisco Chronicle recently. “He was very passionate about it, and we still are.”

He’s not the only fan of nostalgia, as it turns out. Studies show nostalgia gives people better self-esteem and boosts optimism. It also makes people feel happier, more socially connected and even gives life more meaning, according to Psychology Today.

Great food and happy memories are a powerful combination — especially when combined with near-universal brand recognition.

Learn more about the franchise opportunity

A&W fast food franchises are a perfect investment opportunity for all kinds of entrepreneurs, from those who want to improve their hometowns to those who want to buy several locations and scale quickly. We have 600+ franchises locations nationwide and are continuing to grow strategically. Please explore our research pages and request our free Franchise Information Report to learn more. We look forward to hearing from you!