A&W vs. Dunkin’ Donuts

More prime territories, more lenient qualifications and the benefits of a franchisee-owned brand give us an edge over franchising powerhouse Dunkin’ Donuts

A&W Restaurants has been around for nearly a century. Dunkin’ Donuts, almost 70 years. And neither brand is going away anytime soon. So with two longtime stable brands in the foodservice franchising space, how do you decide the winner in an A&W vs. Dunkin’ Donuts competition?

It all depends on what you’re looking for.

Dunkin’ is well-respected in the world of franchising, and with good reason. But because of their far reach, getting in can be more difficult. Like us, they require foodservice experience. But with more than 10,000 units nationwide, Dunkin’ requires a multi-unit investment just to get your foot in the door. They also have more limited territory availability.

A&W, with over 625 locations across the U.S. and 340+ internationally, has much broader availability of prime territories. And while we welcome multi-unit ownership, we also have room for the single-unit owner-operator. We do have certain qualifications and standards our franchisees must adhere to, but they aren’t as strict as Dunkin’s requirements.

A&W vs. Dunkin’ Donuts

Here’s how our brands stack up in a head-to-head comparison:

 A&W RestaurantsDunkin' Donuts
Year founded19191950
No. of units625+7,550+
Startup costs$266,500 to $1.2 million$228,621 – $1.7 million
Minimum liquidity$150,000$250,000
Minimum net worth$350,000$500,000
Franchising fee$30,000$40,000 – $90,000

*U.S. only
Sources: Dunkinfranchising.com; dunkinbrands.com; entrepreneur.com

A different kind of franchise ownership

While you’re exploring all the best restaurant franchises and considering which one to invest in, we think it’s important to know that A&W Restaurants holds some significant advantages over other food franchises because of how our ownership is structured.

In fact, A&W has averaged nearly 30% sales increases over the past six years.

Most franchises talk about giving franchisees a voice. A&W actually gives them a seat at the table — because they own us. 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.”

A bacon cheeseburger with tomato, onion, pickles and lettuce is pictured next to a pile of french fries with a soda cup in the background that reads, “Real Draft Root Beer.”

A&W Restaurants has been serving up delicious burgers, fries and creamy Root Beer, made fresh on premises every day, for 99 years.

Food, paper, savings

A&W has another advantage over many foodservice brands: a best-in-class distribution system. In this case, that’s not just puffery. Our franchise has a vendor relationship with Restaurant Supply Chain Solutions (RSCS), which also provides food, paper and restaurant equipment to Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell.

Because those brands are three of the biggest restaurant franchises in the country, that gives RSCS incredible reach – and helps us get to out-of-the-way locations 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.

Why invest in A&W franchises now

Our delicious menu, from burgers and fries to cheese curds and our iconic Root Beer brewed fresh in every restaurant, every day, 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, and it bears repeating: Under our current leadership, we’ve experienced a nearly 30% increase in sales on average since 2011.

Learn more

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!