A&W tries to go hip with new concept store
The North Vancouver–based A&W Canada chain—long synonymous with root beer, a dancing bear and burgers named after family members—is doing a 180. A press release from the restaurant chain says that a new Toronto concept store (there’s already one in Vancouver and one coming in Montreal) will be aimed at “urban diners” in an attempt to be “current and relevant for today.” What does that mean for a fast-food franchise? Salads, chicken sandwiches (why must every fast-food joint insist on serving spicy chipotle?), free Wi-Fi and self-order kiosks that accept debit and credit. That pretty much sums up the stereotypical urbanite: city folk who eat nothing but grilled chicken and salads, are glued to their iPads (or laptops if they’re poor) and never have cash on them.
We were shocked to learn that A&W has been doing quite well lately. Same-store sales have been steadily rising for the past 29 quarters. Its Q2 summary report says it’s focusing on appealing “to its core baby boomer customer, both by building the strong emotional connection to this customer, and by focusing on the increasing demand for premium hamburgers.”
This makes these concept stores seem all the more weird. The menu additions and sleek new designs don’t really cater to the nostalgia demographic. Neither do the steps A&W is taking toward environmental friendliness: stainless steel cutlery and reusable fry baskets, mugs and china plates. Does this mean that we can expect “urban” versions of commercials like this?