Fans of the original A&W Root Beer Float are in for a treat this fall. A brand-new flagship store and training location for A&W Restaurants is on track to open soon in Richmond.
For those locals thinking that Richmond already has an A&W, you're not wrong. The current A&W Restaurant is housed in the same building as Long John Silver's, very close to the Eastern Kentucky University campus. Sarah Mueller, vice president of marketing for A&W, says the company is working closely with the franchisee of the current location to help transfer into the new one near Meijer.
The project broke ground the week of July 22, and while the construction is still in fairly early stages, overall it is well ahead of schedule. Originally, the corporate office had planned for a grand opening to take place sometime in 2020, but now the date has moved up to early November of 2019.
The building will comprise not only a restaurant, but also a training location.
"Anyone that opens a restaurant in the U.S. will have to come to the Richmond training store," says Mueller. "In addition to being a full, freestanding location, there is a classroom training center on the back of the restaurant."
The classroom is integral to the company's training program, A&W University. New restaurant managers or owners can sign up for A&W University. The training is also available to existing managers or operators looking to improve their business. All team members can learn the ways of the A&W food service business through training with A&W University.
Currently, Mueller says the training program is located in Lexington. They had a training campus open in the mall, but that recently closed. All of the systems in place there will transfer to Richmond.
To ease the transition process, Mueller states that the company aims to keep as much of the management and staff from the Fayette Mall training location as possible. For example, the manager from the mall will take over as the manager of this new location.
"We're very lucky that he will be able to transition with us. He's excited about having a full restaurant to run, and to have the training location is great for him. He's a very experienced manager, and he's been with A&W for several years," Mueller said.
The new restaurant's proximity to Lexington was a key determining factor in the choice to build in Richmond.
"Our national headquarters is in Lexington, and we looked at dozens of properties throughout this region," said Mueller. "We wanted a really good site, and we felt that this was the best available."
A bigger location was a necessity in order to accommodate the restaurant as well as the training space.
Mueller states, "We're excited about having a full freestanding restaurant with drive-in and training. It's pretty exciting, we think, for the area."