Founded in 1919, A&W is one of the oldest fast food chains in the United States. Predating fast food giants such as Wendy's and McDonald's, this chain was one of the first to implement a car-hop service, and in the 1960's, had over 2,400 locations nationwide

Since the 60's, A&W locations have shrunk to a total of 967, one-third of which are overseas. But now, the chain is preparing to open 45 new locations in 2017, up from 36 new locations in 2016. A&W had taken a nosedive as a company due to it's incorporation with Yum! Foods, which co-branded a massive amount of A&W's with KFC locations. 

In 2011, A&W was sold back to a group of franchises, and it took a while before the chain found its footing again. Kevin Bazner, a CEO of A&W for 17 years before Yum! bought the chain, came back to the company as CEO, and has started to rebrand A&W, making it more similar to the restaurant it was 50 years ago. Now in the first year, A&W will open more locations than close, and there are some major changes coming.

Back to the Originals 

Part of the reason A&W suffered under Yum! was their main seller: root beer. A&W sells root beer three times as much as other sodas, according to Bazner. Under Yum!, the root beer was brought in bags and put in the mix machines, just like everything else.

But now, A&W is 100% back to making its root beer in-store, daily, from the original 1919 recipe. No preservatives or shortcuts allowed.

Newer, Healthier Products

Since the sale, A&W has introduced hand-breaded chicken tenders, the hot dogs are now 100% beef, and so are their burgers. A&W has clearly committed to fresher, healthier, cleaner ingredients, and are getting closer and closer to a cooked-to-order food service. 

Location, Location, Location 

A&W is headquartered in Lexington, KY, which might give you an idea as to where most of their restaurant locations are. A&W operates in 44 of the 48 continental states, with most of their locations existing in the Midwest and Northwest. But don't worry, there's at least one in a state near you.

The new locations should be opening around the country - including some overseas - in the rest of the calendar year. There's also a modernization effort going on around the country to update the previously existing A&W locations into a more modern style and to update the facilities that had been previously bene used. 

Personally, I think the opening of more restaurants is not only great for A&W, but for the root beer loving community. A&W seems to be going back to it's roots in order to create a healthier, quality-oriented, original outlook on an old classic. And you won't find a better root beer or root beer float than the one you'll find here.