A&W vs Dairy Queen

Tastes are subjective. Numbers are not. Take a look at how we stack up against long-time burger and treats franchise Dairy Queen.

A&W has averaged 33% same-store sales increases since 2011, and our growth is steady and controlled. We aim to be one of the best restaurant franchises, and we know that doesn’t always mean the biggest. In an A&W vs. Dairy Queen comparison, the latter brand is unquestionably larger.

But are they better?

It truly depends on what you’re looking for. Both franchises offer burgers, dogs and chicken tenders along with fries and onion rings. Both offer deliciously tempting desserts. But Dairy Queen’s presence in the U.S. is nearly eight times larger than A&W, and that can mean finding a DQ site location will be more challenging.

A&W, with over 625 locations across the nation, has much broader availability of prime territories, and we work very well in small towns. That’s because we are partnered with a particularly far-reaching distribution network via Restaurant Supply Chain Solutions (RSCS), which delivers everywhere because they also supply food and equipment for three of the country’s biggest restaurant franchises: Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell.

A&W vs. Dairy Queen

Here’s a look at how the numbers stack up side-by-side:

 A&W RestaurantsDairy Queen
Year founded19191940
No. of units*625+4,460+
Startup costs$266,500 to $1.2 million$382,000 to $1.8 million
Minimum liquidity$150,000$400,000
Minimum net worth$350,000$750,000
Franchising fee$30,000$35,000

*U.S. only
Source: Entrepreneur.com

Our franchisees make the decisions because they own the brand

Most franchises have a version of a franchisee advisory council that offers owners a chance to weigh in on important decisions. But we go further.

Our franchisees own the brand. The National A&W Franchisees Association (NAWFA) Board, comprised of franchisee representatives elected by their fellow owners, works with our Executive Leadership Team on every decision.

“Our shareholders are our franchise partners,” says President and CEO Kevin Bazner. “And they have a long-term strategy for the business. There is no exit strategy.”

The exterior of an A&W restaurant on a sunny day.

A&W cares about quality, in our food and in our growth. Fill out the short form on this page to start a conversation about owning a franchise.

Why A&W franchises are a smart investment now

Our delicious menu, from burgers and fries to cheese curds and our iconic Root Beer brewed fresh in every restaurant, has nostalgic appeal. Guests love our classic American favorites served in a family-friendly atmosphere. It’s a simple formula that has worked for nearly a century.

Our operations-based culture revolves around what’s best for franchisees. We will always prioritize bottom-line profits when we’re thinking about how best to drive top-line sales. A&W understands how to deliver value to our guests without sacrificing profitability.

Our partnership with RSCS is one way we do that. RSCS has incredible reach, helping us get supplies to even out-of-the-way locations quickly and frequently while keeping distribution costs under control. Having access to such an extended supply chain network allows A&W owners to operate on wider profit margins.

Learn more about A&W franchising

Discover more about the A&W franchise opportunity by exploring our research pages. You can also fill out the no-obligation form on this page to start a conversation. We look forward to hearing from you!

Learn More

Complete the form below to receive a free copy of our Franchise Information Report and start a conversation about owning an A&W Restaurant.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.