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A&W Rootbeer Restaurant

By | Last Modified: October 17, 2018
Former A&W Rootbeer on Memorial Highway
Former A&W Rootbeer restaurant on Memorial Highway

A&W Rootbeer is a national franchised fast food chain that originated as a drive-in-style restaurant. Several local incarnations have existed, including a long-time restaurant on Memorial Highway.

Bismarck’s original A&W drive-in opened in June 1950 at 1207 Memorial Highway. Predating Big Boy (opened in 1954), it may have been Bismarck’s first traditional drive-in restaurant, although, Dairy Queen (opened in 1948) was referred to as a drive-in at the time.

The original A&W closed in either 1991 or early 1992, after attempts to sell the restaurant were unsuccessful. Its assets were auctioned off in 1995.

An A&W Hot Dogs & More kiosk operated inside Kirkwood Mall during the 1990s and into the early 2000s.

A&W Rootbeer & Long John Silvers in 2009

A & W returned locally in 1997, as a drive-through and dine-in restaurant located inside the new Cenex on East Divide Avenue. Another A&W opened soon after at 304 E Front Ave (later “The Pitch”) that featured drive-through, dine-in, and traditional drive-in with car hop service. The Front Avenue location became the nation’s first to co-branded with Long John Silver’s, in 2001. The restaurant becomes Reza’s Pitch in 2010 and closes in 2016.

A second A&W/Long John Silver’s hybrid opened in about 2003 at 3120 N 14th Street (on State Street), but closed in May 2006, citing staffing difficulties. It became Wendy’s in 2007.

As of 2018, no A&W restaurant operated locally.

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