A&W Franchise Review: Jason Kupfner, Director of Operations for Par Mar Oil

Following the success of their first A&W C-store in Ohio, Par Mar Oil just opened a second location — and more may be in the works

An A&W sign adorns the orange top of an exterior of a restaurant against a blue sky. Beneath the A&W sign is a smaller sign that reads, “All American Food.”

Jason Kupfner, Director of Retail Operations for Par Mar Oil, didn’t have any questions about what restaurant to pair with Par Mar’s convenience store operation in West Virginia. After their success with the A&W franchise in one of their Zanesville, Ohio, convenience stores, they were eager to try again. They just opened an A&W store in Pleasant Valley, West Virginia, in August. In this A&W franchise review, Kupfner talks about why the 113-store convenience and gas company likes partnering with A&W.

What made you decide to open an A&W next to or in your convenience store?
We had acquired an A&W C-store in Zanesville, Ohio, back in 2013, and it’s been very successful store for us. A&W was at the top of our list when we started looking in 2016 to add a restaurant to our Pleasant Valley, West Virginia, store. It’s taken us a while to get it up and running, but we’re excited to see how our new restaurant performs.

What appealed to you most about the A&W brand vs. another brand?
It’s a brand that’s been around for 100 years – you can’t do any better than that. It’s a brand that people recognize. Growing up, I remember going to A&W, and my mom even kept a baby mug in the kitchen that she’d gotten as a kid.

How did A&W’s corporate team guide you through the opening process?
The opening process was very structured. The weekly calls were very helpful. We had a plan, and the A&W team kept us on task. Your team had confidence in us and we made a good team together. The training staff that came to our restaurant were awesome, and they stayed with us for two weeks.

How much contact have you had with the corporate office since opening? Can you describe the ongoing support they’ve provided?
Our Franchise Growth Leader, Randy, has been our boots on the ground and he’s been very helpful. We’ve been in touch with people at the office. We feel very supported by the team.

How does A&W help with your C-store profitability?
We spent just under $300,000 for the restaurant conversion in Pleasant Valley; we did the build-out in a former Fazoli’s. A&W brings additional foot traffic into our stores. We estimate it will add significant revenue to our existing operation.

Are you planning to add more A&W franchises?
We are looking at another couple of sites. We are growing rapidly, and we will continue to consider A&W as we expand.

Would you recommend A&W to another C-store operator, and if so, why?
Yes, because working with A&W is not like working with any other QSR chains. Other brands have no flexibility. We like working with the A&W brand because they understand our partnership is give and take, they don’t just say “no.” They’re open-minded, and the team is always willing to share best practices.

Learn more

You can discover more about our franchise offering by filling out the form on this page. You can also continue to explore our website to read more A&W franchise reviews and learn more about the A&W restaurant franchise opportunity for your C&G operations. We look forward to hearing from you!

4 core strengths as a business opportunity

For more than 100 years, A&W Restaurants have been getting the job done. Here are 4 reasons behind our staying power.

A hand holds a Root Beer Float in an A&W-branded mug in the foreground while an out-of-focus bacon cheeseburger, fries and strawberry shake are seen in the background.

Every business has its brand pillars. For A&W Restaurants, three of our biggest strengths as a business opportunity are our near-universal brand recognition, our menu and our supply chain. Our franchisee ownership structure is the cherry on top.

Here’s a look at four of the pillars of our brand and how they benefit franchisees.

Supply chain advantage

One of the biggest advantages we have in 2019 is our supply chain vendor Restaurant Supply Chain Solutions (RSCS).

RSCS is a major buying co-op that handles supply and distribution for Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC, three of the largest franchises in the U.S. That means great prices on food, paper and restaurant equipment for our franchisees. The fact that RSCS is already servicing tens of thousands of restaurants means there’s nowhere in the country they can’t go. That gives our owner-operators the kind of buying power and reach usually afforded only to much larger franchise systems. That’s a boon for our small-town franchise owners as well as multi-unit developers who want to delve into new territories.

“The relationship we have with RSCS is probably one of the more unique things that we have going for us,” says franchisee Tom Thompson of Dubuque, Iowa. “I don’t know how many other smaller brands can say that they’re associated with a food-purchasing co-op with equipment-purchasing benefits as well. That’s a tremendous advantage for A&W.”

Our menu advantage

Hot-off-the-grill burgers. Hand-breaded chicken tenders. Root Beer floats. What’s not to love? A&W’s menu has broad appeal. Is it trendy? No. But the burger category continues to rule, comprising 44%, or over $90 billion, of sandwich sales in 2016, according to research firm Technomic. And our unique brand of hip nostalgia has been great at attracting customers since 1919.

Back in those days, we served up our fresh-made Root Beer in cold, frosty glass mugs. In 2019, we still do. People are nostalgic for those kinds of small pleasures, and it makes a difference in customer engagement.

Our brand recognition

Who hasn’t heard of A&W? We’ve been serving customers nationwide for the last century, and we have generations of brand recognition. Just about everyone has a fond memory of heading out with a date or with their family, enjoying a creamy, delicious ice-cold Root Beer Float and some Papa Burgers and Cheese Curds. Customers not only know A&W — franchisees typically hear a lot of excitement when they announce that they’re bringing an A&W Restaurant to town.

Our ownership structure

Perhaps A&W Restaurants’ most remarkable distinction is the way the brand’s ownership is structured. We are franchisee-owned. Our stakeholders are our franchisees, and every decision is collaborative. This business isn’t run by some ivory-tower MBA who has never seen the inside of a kitchen and doesn’t even eat the food here. We live it, and breathe it. Everyone in our corporate office works inside a restaurant at least once a quarter so we can experience the brand ourselves — and see first-hand how brand decisions play out for local restaurants.

Franchise owners play a key role in every decision through the National A&W Franchisees Association (NAWFA) Board, which approves all decisions in concert with our Executive Team. There is true representation here, and that’s not always the case with franchises.

Learn more

Learn more about becoming a part of the A&W franchise family. Fill out the form on this page to start a conversation, or explore our website to learn more about the franchise opportunity. We look forward to hearing from you!

Why A&W is a great brand for your convenience store or gas station

Convenience and gas station owners looking to pair with fast food franchises benefit from increased value, more foot traffic and additional revenue stream with A&W.

Pictured are a bacon cheeseburger with onion, lettuce and tomato; a pile of fries; and a Root Beer float in an A&W-branded mug. If you’re looking for a name-brand fast food franchise to partner with your convenience store and gas station locations, A&W Restaurants may be the right fit. We’ve got 100 years of experience, strong year-over-year sales and the brand recognition to help increase your foot traffic. A&W is known for our emphasis on great food and a family-friendly experience. We offer several advantages to C-store operators:

  • A menu with broad appeal
  • Floor plan flexibility that can allow C-store owners to fit our brand within property they already own
  • A strong supply chain that reaches all corners of the country
  • A company that is franchisee-owned with franchisee representation, meaning you have a say in the overall business strategy.

How A&W can help you amp up your business

Profit generators are a must for anyone in the gas business. By partnering with A&W, you can put a freestanding restaurant on your property in as little as 2,000 square feet.

A&W already partners with experienced brands like Casey’s and TravelCenters of America, and we are eager to welcome more C-stores and travel centers to help expand our reach as we help pump up your existing business.

Fast food franchises like A&W serve as a magnet for additional traffic to your site and allow you to capture more of your customers’ spending — at margins significantly better than fuel sales. Investing in A&W franchises provide you with another high-volume sales opportunity.

“We have a lot of signage for A&W in our C-store. We are working on a daily special plan and we’re in the process of getting register receipt coupons which will cross promote with our grocery. “Spend $25 get a free float, spend $75 get a free ‘something’,” says Brandon Brown, who owns a C-store with an A&W franchise, along with a grocery store and Subway franchise. “The Local Store Marketing support was one of the reasons we picked A&W. The marketing materials are very professional.”

A&W wins, too: Your convenience stores and gas stations allow us to expand our growth in a thoughtful way with companies whose values are similar to our own. We currently have 92 C&G locations, and we will increase those numbers in 2019.

Why you’ll love our fast food franchise

The A&W brand is owned by its franchisees, including the National A&W Franchisees Association (NAWFA). In fact, every employee at the A&W Restaurant Support Center works a shift in one of our restaurants at least once every quarter. There’s no better way to see how our processes are impacting the bottom line.

“It is refreshing that the team genuinely cares about your business and the team travels the road together with you,” says Brown. “There is no big ‘corporate’ mentality. A&W cares less about lining their pockets than your own success, and they know the business success is a two-way street. If we’re making money, they make money.”

NAWFA is comprised of owners who have spent years on the front lines of their own A&W franchises. They helped us successfully restructure the business model in 2011, and we have experienced an average sales increases of almost 33% since then.

We are there to support all our owner/operators, but it’s still your business. A&W provides you with our time-tested systems and the benefits of our supply chain, and we’re there anytime you need us. Our commitment to you is that we are dedicated to creating long-term recurring cash flow and potential multi-generational wealth for our franchisees.

Because we’re owned by our franchisees, there is no exit strategy — just long-term, sustainable growth plans.

Our number one goal is to help our operators grow profitable same-store sales, delivering value to our guests without sacrificing profitability.

Gain access to our revenue figures

Click here to gain access to our revenue figures and learn more about the A&W franchise opportunity.

A&W supply chain creates big advantages for people who want to start small and scale up

A&W Restaurant franchises work where you are, thanks to a supply chain vendor with a very far reach

New franchisees find big efficiencies when they invest in A&W Restaurant franchises. That’s true whether you are a multi-unit franchisee diversifying into a new brand, or a small town entrepreneur looking for a franchise that works well in smaller communities.

One of A&W’s biggest strengths as a business opportunity is our supply chain. Our menu, brand recognition, and franchisee ownership structure are cherries on top.

Our supply chain advantage

Our supply chain vendor Restaurant Supply Chain Solutions (RSCS) is a major buying co-op that handles supply and distribution for Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC, three of the largest franchises in the U.S.

That means great prices on food, paper and restaurant equipment for our franchisees. The fact that RSCS is already servicing tens of thousands of restaurants means there’s nowhere in the country they can’t go. That gives our owner-operators the kind of buying power and reach usually afforded only to much larger franchise systems. That’s a boon for our small-town franchise owners as well as multi-unit developers who want to delve into new territories.

Learn more

Learn more about becoming a part of the A&W franchise family. Fill out the form on this page to start a conversation, or explore our research pages to learn more about the franchise opportunity. We look forward to hearing from you!

Time for a new look

A&W Restaurants unveiled a new look for our franchises at annual convention, using updated ‘hip nostalgia’ design to convey innovation to consumers

An artist’s rendering shows the exterior of an A&W restaurant with exterior patio seating and outlines of people walking around the restaurant.

One of the highlights at our annual convention this year, aside from the fabulous Hawaiian location, was the reveal of the upcoming design revamp for all A&W Restaurants.

Dubbed Gen19, the new design package is a modern makeover that will maintain the core character of A&W branding while keeping things fresh. Here’s a sneak peek at what’s to come:

With retro neon signage, updated seating and hip nostalgia pop art murals of our mouthwatering food, A&W Restaurants will feel at once familiar and new. We’re maintaining strong touches of our signature orange, complemented by earthy grays. The new interior design also creates more of an open feel without sacrificing seating.
An artist’s rendering shows the updated interior of an A&W restaurant, with orange plastic molded chairs, blonde wood tables, taller metal chairs at a communal table and orange pendant lighting.

Updates can boost traffic, affect productivity

Restaurant design encompasses everything from queueing patterns and kitchen efficiency to dining experience, so it’s important to get it right. A&W worked with Lexington, KY, design firm Cornett for our latest update.

Today’s fast-casual customers are more savvy, so getting it right is important, brand design expert Brenna Johnson wrote in a guest column for QSR magazine.

“Consumers are expecting your brand message to be sophisticated and complex,” she wrote. “Guests expect to see your brand delivered to them through everything they can taste, touch, see, hear, and smell.”

New investors who sign franchise agreements with A&W will automatically be using the upgraded design, and existing franchisees on a go-forward basis. It is our intention to bring renewed attention to the A&W’s brand with our updated design while still maintaining our intrinsic value to longtime fans.

“It’s a new element of customer engagement that relies on more than just the product they’re selling,” Johnson wrote in QSR. “It’s also now about building a captivating and relevant environment. An upgrade in interior design can improve the customer’s perception of the brand and increase a restaurant’s perceived value.”

Own a franchise with A&W Restaurants

Learn more about becoming a part of the A&W franchise family. Fill out the form on this page to start a conversation, or explore our research pages to learn more about the franchise opportunity. We look forward to hearing from you!

How A&W Restaurants appeals to multi-unit investors

Our franchisee-owned, operations-focused restaurant franchise has a century of experience and years of upward sales trends

The exterior of an A&W Restaurant

A&W Restaurants, in business for nearly a century, is an ever-more attractive franchise opportunity as sales continue to increase.

A&W Restaurants has more than 625 locations across the U.S., and nearly a century in business. As a franchise brand that is truly owned by franchisees – they bought the brand in 2011 – every decision we make is determined by the people who are actually operating the restaurants.

It’s a strategy that has paid off. We’re a resurgent brand with a great growth strategy, and we’re looking for experienced operators to help us grow. See why more and more people are excited about our multi-unit investment opportunity.

Operations-based culture

One of the biggest complaints multi-unit operators have is that the people making the decisions don’t know their way around the kitchen. That’s just not the case at A&W. President and CEO Kevin Bazner started in the restaurant industry by washing dishes at the age of 14. Chairman Dale Mulder has been in the business for nearly 60 years as an operator. You’ll find similar stories among almost everyone on the A&W leadership team.

“A lot of the positive feedback we get, both from prospective franchisees and from existing operators, is around how we’re getting operational input and how we are operators ourselves,” Bazner says. “Everything we do gets funneled through that common sense operations filter.”

We pride ourselves on our operations-based culture. Franchisees assumed ownership in 2011. Since then, every move we make is based on the collective decisions of our franchisees, and as a result we’ve experienced same-store sales increases, on average, of 33%.

Transparency

Buying a franchise in 2018 is not like buying a franchise in 1998, or even 2008. With the internet at everyone’s fingertips, much of the discovery process is in the hands of the investor. Savvy franchise buyers do as much research as possible on their own before engaging in conversations with brand representatives.

That’s why we owe it to you to be as transparent as possible so you can make the most informed decision. We’re proud of our franchise and our performance.

And this year, we’ve added an Item 19 Financial Performance Representation to our Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD). We want to share with qualified candidates up front what we know about our revenue picture from the most recent 12-month period. While we can’t predict or guarantee financial performance, we can provide you with as much data as possible so you can thoroughly vet our brand and make an informed decision before you invest. Prospective candidates will receive a copy of our FDD as soon as we’ve determined that they’re qualified to own an A&W franchise.

And what does it take to qualify, you might ask? We look for candidates with a minimum liquidity of $150,000 and a net worth of at least $350,000.

The total startup investment ranges from $266,500 to $1.2 million. You can see a line-item breakdown of startup costs here.

Ease of scalability

A woman and man on either side of an A&W bear statue pose with their four boys in front of the statue. The boys and father are wearing orange A&W-branded T-shirts. Branded merchandise can be seen in the background.

Julie and Jeremy Glenz and their children love running their two Minnesota A&W Restaurants, and they’re already on the lookout for the opportunity to open more.

Julie Glenz, who owns two units in Albany and Richmond, MN, with husband Jeremy, knows a good opportunity when she sees it.

“A&W is so prompt at getting us what we need when we need it. When we opened our second store, they sent people to our store to help train all the new employees we hired,” Glenz says. “They stayed for a couple of weeks to get everybody familiar with everything. When you’re opening a new business, you have so many things to get figured out. Just having them there to help was great. “

With that kind of support and a lot of unclaimed territory available, she’s game for more growth in the future.

“There’s been talk about adding more,” she says. “If the right spot comes up, we’ll definitely consider it.”

Learn more about A&W Restaurants

If you’d like to know more about the multi-unit franchise opportunity with A&W Restaurants, please fill out the short, no-obligation form on this page to start a conversation. You can also learn more about our brand by exploring our research pages.