A&W Franchise Review: Julie Glenz of Minnesota

Longtime A&W franchisee Julie Glenz brings experience, perspective to franchisee-run NAWFA board

The Glenz family stands in an A&W restaurant next to a life-size figure of the A&W mascot, Rooty the Great Root Bear.

The Glenz family

With restaurants in Albany and Richmond, Minnesota, Julie Glenz has been an A&W franchisee since 2001. She has only been on the board of NAWFA (National A&W Franchisees Association) since March, but she’s bringing all her experience with her.

She and the rest of the panel of elected representatives have a big responsibility, meeting regularly to review all of the decisions that go into making a successful franchise. Recently, the NAWFA board was working with A&W’s marketing department to hammer out a final design for new menu boards, a key part of the strategy to support the restaurant franchise’s booming drive-thru sales.

“The board members are from all over the U.S., so everybody has their own unique perspective, that little bit of information that is different from California to Minnesota to Florida,” she says. “It kind of is nice to get everybody’s input on things like that. Everybody has good ideas.”

Long history with a legacy brand 

Glenz and her husband, Jeremy, have been franchisees since 2014 officially, with occasional help from their four young boys, ages 7-13. But she grew up in the business, since her late parents first added an A&W restaurant to their gas station when Glenz was graduating from college in 2001.

Today, she and her husband are partners in several bars and restaurants as well, so Glenz happily handles most of the responsibilities at their A&W franchises. Being involved, being able to recognize her many repeat customers and greet them when they come into the dining room, is one of the most rewarding things about owning an A&W.

“I love interacting with all the customers and just seeing the happy faces when people come in and either it’s, ‘Oh, I haven’t been to A&W in forever’ or the kids getting a Root Beer Float in a frosted mug,” Glenz says.

Running an A&W franchise

The best person for this franchise, says Glenz, is someone who is passionate about and motivated, but more importantly someone who is eager to be involved. More than the financial requirements ($350,000 net worth, $150,000 liquidity), that’s the franchise candidate who will be a good culture fit.

As for the best reason for that candidate to invest in A&W?

Obviously, our longevity and our AUV are two great reasons to invest. But there are intangibles as well.

“I feel like we’re a little family,” says Glenz. “We’re not so big that you don’t know everybody. You can go to anybody here. If I have a question, I can ask CEO Kevin Bazner and he will totally get back to me. Or I can ask our franchise growth leader. Everybody is very helpful.”

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You can discover more about our franchise offering by filling out the form on this page. You can also continue to explore our research pages to learn more about the A&W franchise brand.

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Franchisee Profile: From Corner Booth to Boardroom Seat

By Dave Crowley, Director of Franchise Recruitment

Background is white with text reading "Meet the A&W Family" on the left in brown. On the right is a photo of A&W franchisee Mike Vinckier.

Growing up in small-town Yale, Michigan in the 1990s, Mike Vinckier personally knew the owners of the local A&W restaurant, which still serves the best burgers in town. “I have so many memories of going after basketball games or for lunch with my family. We only had a few restaurants in town, and the A&W was the best — it was the hot spot with a prized corner booth.”

Years later, those fond memories would play into Mike’s decision to franchise with A&W, opening their first restaurant in Almont, Michigan, and another in Marysville. A restaurant in Kimball Township is scheduled for 2021.

The Vinckier family’s entrepreneurial tradition runs the gamut from real estate, construction, grocery, and hardware stores to a gas station, and of course, A&W All American Food. Mike studied food management in college, making for a natural transition to the restaurant business.

“Dad had extra land in front of our grocery store in Almont. We wanted a complement to our grocery business, not something that would take business away,” Mike recalled. They looked at several restaurant chains before connecting with A&W.

“A&W is a quality brand with great quality food,” Mike said. “Once we started talking with A&W, it was ‘game over’ for us. The service and support we’ve received has been great. You talk to the person in charge, not just an admin.”

The same applies with the National A&W Franchise Advisory Board (NAWFA), which allows any franchisee to sit in on its meetings. Mike made the trip to Kentucky and recalled, “The franchisees on the NAWFA Board had so much to share, and it was so cool to see big franchisees sitting next to smaller ‘one shop’ operators … from the Midwest to West Coast, all sizes of operations.”

Mike learned things he never knew about the A&W business at that board meeting. “The product development and food offerings were almost overwhelming; I didn’t realize how much went into developing products.” He looks forward to attending future board meetings, especially since few other franchise brands are so open and transparent.

At the same time, he witnessed similarities between his family’s business and A&W’s operations. “We believe that you can’t ask someone to do something that you aren’t prepared to do – and the A&W corporate team is the same.”

The Vinckiers chose to convert an old Pizza Hut in Marysville for their second location. Mike admits it was hard to picture initially. “Start by imagining the roofline in A&W orange,” he suggested. Despite demolishing nearly the entire building, the conversion was cost-effective and performance has far exceeded expectations.

A&W is known for its design flexibility, which allows franchisees to convert existing buildings, such as banks, other QSR buildings, and even a casino cafe, into outposts for All American Food. That came in handy for Mike Vinckier, who fondly recalls the corner booth in his hometown A&W.

“We had to put a corner booth in our own A&W Restaurant. It is always the first spot guests choose to sit in, and it reminds us of the Yale A&W we grew up with. We love that we can pass this special experience down to our guests.”

Meet our Newest Multi-Unit Franchisee, Eddie Khoury

By Dave Crowley, Director of Franchise Recruitment

Background is orange. Text on left side of image reads "Welcome to the A&W family" in brown. Photo of Eddie Khoury is on the right side of the image. Text underneath reads "Eddie Khoury, Lafayette, LA" in brown.

One of the best parts of my job is hearing how prospective franchisees fell in love with A&W. Everyone has a story. And I’ve been listening to a lot of stories lately.

The common thread is memories and personal experiences they want to share with a new generation of A&W fans. They want to introduce – or maybe bring back – to their communities the best Root Beer in the country, the tastiest Cheese Curds this side of Wisconsin and a Bacon Cheeseburger second to none.

Eddie Khoury, one of our newest multi-unit franchisees, shared such a story. Currently, Eddie is busy working on his first free-standing A&W with a drive-thru in Lafayette, Louisiana. It will be part of a nine-acre shopping center he is developing from the ground up. He plans to open two other A&Ws in the area.

Here’s Eddie’s story, in his own words.

My name is Eddie Khoury, and I’ve been in the restaurant/retail business for over 30 years now. I currently own and operate CC’s Coffee Houses, convenience stores with Zeus Express inside, Zeus/Subway restaurants, Pont des Mouton Plaza, and Agave Mexican Grill and Cantina.

I travel often, and while doing so, I came across A&W. I loved the concept and enjoyed my experience each time I visited. A&W provides the perfect American comfort food, while also being fast and convenient. I believe A&W will be a great addition to the dining options in Lafayette. The brand speaks for itself.

What appealed to you most about the A&W brand vs. another brand?

In the restaurant industry, you need to be a little bit different to stand out, and A&W is something different. Its Root Beer is a well-recognized name, and I was surprised the chain wasn’t already in Louisiana.

When I talked about opening an A&W here, I kept hearing stories about “my grandparents used to take me,” or “my parents took us.” The brand has recognition, and I liked that it was something unique.

Everyone and anyone can build a restaurant, but building a successful restaurant is another thing. I want grandparents, parents and kids to have the A&W experience.

What were the most important factors in your decision making?

I am entrepreneurial by nature. I’m always looking for new opportunities that sit outside the box or fill a niche. I like something that’s a bit different, and that’s A&W.

Take us back to your Discovery Day. What did you like most about your visit to the Support Center?

I loved the attitude, and it felt like a great work environment. The entire team spoke with passion about the brand, and it gave me a good vibe. I liked that employees were loyal to the brand, and the numbers made sense financially.

I’ve been to Discovery Days with other brands, where there was an uptight feeling. At A&W, I thought, “These are easy people to work with.” I’m a creative thinker with a vision. I felt A&W would be receptive to my ideas, allowing us to grow together.

What did you take away from your visit to the Richmond (Kentucky) Restaurant and Learning Center?

I was surprised by the whole environment. I could take a family there, and everyone could get something different. The food was really great, and it caters to all tastes, young and old.

The manager was great, too. And I liked that he had been with the brand for a long time.

I loved the draft arm – it made the Root Beer a neat experience in itself. When I returned home, that’s all I could talk about.

What motivated you to sign a multi-unit agreement with A&W?

I didn’t want to bring the brand into Lafayette, build a store, and then have someone else take my territory.

Join us in welcoming Eddie to the A&W Restaurants family!

A&W Franchise Review: Anthony Walker of Baldwin, Wisconsin

He drank Root Beer from his baby bottle, and it still runs through his veins today. Third-generation owner shares his story in this A&W Franchise Review.

Anthony Walker is yet another A&W franchisee who has Root Beer running through his veins. It’s no wonder, since his father put Root Beer in his baby bottle! As a third-generation owner of the A&W franchise in Baldwin, Wisconsin, which his grandparents opened in 1977, Anthony grew up in the business. Like so many multi-generational owners, he tried life away from A&W — but he just couldn’t stay away from the family business. He shares his story in this A&W franchise review.

What’s the most satisfying thing about being an A&W franchise owner?
The most satisfying part of being an owner is being part of an iconic American brand. Our brand has been around for 100 years, and everyone has a story. It’s an incredible connection to share with our guests. I take pride in the fact that we are the best in our segment — we own Root Beer and everyone knows it. No one else does Root Beer better than us. No other chain “owns” their category like A&W.

What were you doing before becoming an A&W franchisee?
My grandparents opened the franchise in 1977, so I grew up in the business — my dad put Root Beer in my baby bottle as a kid. I always thought I would come back to the A&W business. My parents forced me to go to college, and I went to school for marketing and small business management. After college I had a small stint at a car dealership – I sold two cars. But I wanted to be my own boss, so I made the decision to come back into the business. I was added to the franchise contract at age 23, and I felt like I truly had an investment at that point.

How do you feel about the direction of the brand?
For the years I’ve been a part of the brand, I feel the direction has never been better. Our Hand-Breaded Chicken Tenders and new burger procedures have upped our quality, which differentiates us from other chains.

The culture of A&W and the leadership is fantastic. How many brands do you know where the CEO knows your name and walks up to give you a hug? A&W has a unique family atmosphere, and everyone has Root Beer in their veins.

What makes A&W a good investment? Why A&W as opposed to another QSR brand?
We are a special-occasion brand. Consumers really don’t mind treating themselves to A&W because it is seen as a reward. We aren’t stuck in a price value proposition like other brands. We stand for quality value. Our focus on selling Root Beer and treats helps us be more profitable than other brands because these are higher-margin items.

What draws customers to A&W?
A frosted glass mug of Root Beer (which, again, we do better than everyone else). The nostalgia associated with that mug is stronger than we get credit for. Our consistency is key as well; guests know what they’re getting.

How does HQ help you? What are some of the most valuable things they do to support you?
We get solid coaching from our Franchise Growth Leader (FGL) on the field. When they visit they always ask us what we need from them. They don’t yell at us for what we may be doing wrong. If we need help, they get it done. The whole RSC team is very helpful and are always trying to figure out what is the best for our restaurant.

What kind of experience do you need to be successful with A&W? What kind of person will succeed here?
You need to be a good communicator to build a successful team. You need good management skills because this business is about managing people. You need to be transparent and fair. You can’t be afraid to be an operator and get your hands dirty.

Have you adopted the new store design or do you have plans to do so in the near future? What do you hope that will accomplish?
We did an exterior remodel four years ago, and sales are up approximately 30% since then. We are looking forward to remodeling our interior with the new Gen 19 asset design later this year and into early 2020. We’ve found that our remodels in the past have more than paid for themselves.

What’s your favorite menu item?
My favorite products are Root Beer Floats and Cheese Curds.

Knowing what you know now, if you were starting out today, would you still become a A&W franchisee? Why or why not?
Yes! The brand is doing well. Our menu mix is solid, our costs are low, and we are much more profitable than people might assume.

Learn more

Start your own family legacy by joining A&W franchises. 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!

A&W Franchise Review: Phil Welch of Franksville, WI

After three generations of family ownership, Welch has A&W Root Beer running through his veins.

A vintage black-and-white photo shows a car hop taking a man’s order at an A&W drive-in.

There’s a saying among some of the long-time franchisees of A&W: They’ve got A&W Root Beer running through their veins. That’s certainly the case for Phil Welch of Franksville,WI, a third-generation franchise owner. But it wasn’t always the case. He had no intention of going into the family business until A&W was purchased by a partnership of franchisees. Welch shares his history with our 100-year-old brand in this A&W franchise review.

How do you feel about the direction of the brand?
The new ownership of the brand is made up of a partnership of franchisees; that helped give us the confidence to stay with A&W. We knew this group really got what it’s like to own an A&W restaurant, because they were all franchisees themselves. It was important for me to know that new leadership had decades of experience with A&W and truly understood the brand’s heart and soul. Now that we are an independent brand again we know our future is bright.

What makes A&W a good investment? Why A&W as opposed to another QSR brand?
I’ll be honest: If my parents were franchisees of Burger King or Wendy’s, I wouldn’t have been interested in taking over. I’ve had a passion for this brand my whole life. I love the quality of the Root Beer, chicken and burgers. Other brands don’t have the soul of A&W.

How does HQ help you? What are some of the most valuable things they do to support you?
We don’t need a whole lot, but when we do need something, we get it right away. Whatever it is. Our FGL picks up the phone right away and helps us. The team has empathy towards us and is very helpful. We are people first and feel the same from the corporate team. We have the same heart, same core beliefs and attitude.

What draws customers to A&W?
Quality food, great service and cleanliness. We have timers to check tables and bathrooms every 30 minutes. We smile when our guests come in. The presentation of our food is great, and if something doesn’t look right we have our crew throw it away and start over. We don’t serve the food and say, “We’ll do better next time.” We do not sacrifice the guest experience for food cost. We take food safety very seriously and received 100 on our last food safety audit visit.

Are you able to meet your business goals, or are you on your way to meeting your goals, by owning A&W?
We are protecting our family’s future, not looking to build and then sell off. Maybe our kids will take over. Maybe my brother’s kids will. Either way, when you own your own place you know you have equity in something.

How long have you been a franchisee?
My grandparents built their first A&W franchise in 1954 as a seasonal restaurant. Our restaurant has moved twice since then but we’ve remained under consistent family ownership.

What were you doing before becoming an A&W franchisee?
I was an electronics technician in the Navy from 1994 to 2000, and I became a software engineer after leaving the Navy.

How did you end up going into the family business?
We had a unique situation where the Wisconsin Department of Transportation took eminent domain of our restaurant due to a highway project. My parents were ready to retire, and I felt this was a good business opportunity to rebuild the A&W on the other side of the road. Right about this time a group of franchisees bought the A&W Restaurants franchise brand, and this gave me the confidence to leave my job and build a new A&W.

What’s the most satisfying thing about being an A&W franchise owner?
The most satisfying part of owning an A&W is helping young people develop a good work ethic and other good habits, like showing up on time. Some of these kids don’t even know how to hold a mop, but they are willing to learn. My wife and I are both driven and try to lead by example. We encourage them. We know you can’t help everyone, but we help plant a seed. If a team member needs an hour of extra coaching, we give it to them. You can’t put a dollar value on that.

What kind of experience do you need to be successful with A&W? What kind of person will succeed here?
My experience in the Navy helped immensely, giving me good experience in structure and chain of command.
A photo of a Bacon Cheeseburger against a red table background.

What’s your favorite menu item?
Root Beer and an Original Bacon Cheeseburger. I’m a traditionalist and literally drink Root Beer every day.

Knowing what you know now, if you were starting out today, would you still become a A&W franchisee?
Yes, for the same reasons. We believe in the leadership of the brand, the franchisee-owned structure, the product, the brand’s history and its bright future.

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!