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A&W Rootbeer Restaurant

By | Last Modified: November 18, 2019
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. The building later housed Doc’s Veterinary for many years. In 2019, it became home to Harvest – Bismarck’s first medical marijuana dispensary.

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 (replaced by “The Pitch”) that featured drive-through, dine-in, and traditional drive-in with car hop service. The Front Avenue location was the nation’s first to co-branded with Long John Silver’s, in 2001. The restaurant becomes Reza’s Pitch in 2010, which itself closed 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 2019, no A&W restaurant operated locally.

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