Personal recollection: One of my favorite joints was the A&W in Farmington. I still go there when I get over in that direction. When I was a kid, going out for a burger and a root beer was a treat, a big deal you didn't get to do that often. I will use this Farmington entry to document the chain in Michigan and will add more photos and info as I get them.
From the A&W Website:
Roy W. Allen opened his first Root Beer stand in Lodi, CA, on June 20 1919. It was a hot night that coincided with a citywide party celebrating the homecoming of local World War I heroes.
In 1922 Allen partnered with former Lodi employee Frank Wright and leased their first two Root Beer stands to other operators so they could expand into the larger city of Sacramento. This was around the same time the partners coined the new name A&W®, “A” for Allen and “W” for Wright.
1925 - Allen began to sell franchises to others, thus establishing the first franchise restaurant chain in America.
1950 - Thanks to the postwar boom and the prevalence of G.I. loans, there was a flurry of new development and nearly 450 operating A&Ws. Allen sold the entire operation to the A&W Root Beer Co., a California company.
1956 - A&W went international opening its first restaurant in Canada in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in 1956. A&W restaurants in Canada were initially part of the American A&W restaurant chain until they were sold in 1972 and since then, have been owned and operated in Canada independently and separately from A&W operations in the United States.
A&W expanded to the Philippines, Malaysia, and Okinawa, Japan. Meanwhile, in the U.S., the Original Bacon Cheeseburger was born.
1963 - A&W celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 1969. In 1971 A&W Root Beer became available in bottles and cans. In 2011 A&W was purchased by a group of domestic and international A&W Franchise Partners. In 2019 A&W celebrates its 100th anniversary. There are approximately 1,000 restaurants (& counting) in the U.S. and international market.