Lee and Karin Frye reopen former Burger King as A&W
Legendary brand targeting Chicago as part of an aggressive expansion plan
Lexington, Kentucky (RestaurantNews.comAfter spending over 30 years helping restaurant companies find sites and build them in Chicago, local developer Lee Fry Companies, Inc. changes the rules and works independently. A&W Restaurants…
Lee Frye and his wife Karin, who are actively involved in the development and operation of the company, recently acquired North Aurora A&W from a retiring franchisee. They also recently closed a deal to buy Burger King in Addison. Preliminary work on its transformation into A&W is underway. It is located at 1012 N. Rohlwing Rd. And is expected to open before the end of the year.
Founded in 1919, A&W is America’s oldest franchised restaurant chain and the only one exclusively owned by franchisees. There are more than 900 locations in the USA and Asia.
Frys has plans for at least five restaurants. “Everyone we dealt with, from bankers to city planners, remembers A&W. We love that this is a 100-year-old brand with a great reputation, ”said Karin Fry. “We also love that A&W is owned by a franchisee. Too many networks are making decisions that benefit shareholders and not franchisees. ”
According to Lee Fry, the company has discovered and developed sites for Chipotle, Panera, McDonald’s, Dunkin ‘Brands, Panda Express and others. He built new restaurants and also undertook renovations.
Lee Fry Companies consultant Anthony DiMauro with a background in food service oversees the restaurant’s operations. “We decided it was time to use the experience and talent of our organization to own and operate our own restaurants,” DiMauro said. “We chose A&W for the most part because the support it provides to franchisees is far superior to what we’ve seen with other chains.”
A&W CEO Kevin Bazner personally worked with Fry and DiMauro on their plans, including a visit to Chicago to inspect potential targets. Bazner said the Midwest, including Chicago, is a sweet spot for A&W, as many of the brand’s early stores were there. “Every time we return to the community, we experience tremendous excitement that translates into sales,” he said.
Bazner noted that A&W works best between Chicago and Milwaukee. “We see an opportunity to open a significant number of restaurants in the Chicago area over the next few years,” he added. In addition to the North Aurora location, Matteson has an A&W that shares space with Long John Silver’s. A&W is currently focused on the development of mono-brand restaurants and casual dining restaurants.
Same-store sales in the United States were up 19.6% in the first half of the year over 2020, which was the brand’s ninth year of growth in co-sales. Since the company was acquired by a franchisee almost 10 years ago, the company’s sales have grown by over 50%.
Now 102 years old, A&W is America’s first franchised restaurant chain. Known for its all-American food and root beer, which is prepared fresh in every restaurant and served in frosty mugs, there are over 900 A&W restaurants in the US and Asia.