bannerGrowing a Franchise

A&W Restaurants Franchise Elevates Star Performer, Provides Workplace Accommodations

Former radio DJ and wheelchair user Dougie Fresh finds his calling with A&W restaurants.

By Derek Stephens1851 Franchise Contributor
SPONSORED 3:15PM 09/28/22

Doug Blake, order-taker extraordinaire with the A&W restaurant in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota, embodies the brand's spirit with his kind nature, effortless charisma and emphatic devotion to customer service. As a wheelchair user with muscular dystrophy, Blake sought a job that would allow him to provide a meaningful service to his community, capitalize on his strengths and support his family.

A&W was the perfect match.

“The managers at our restaurant set me up in a backroom there, where I can use a headset, mouse and keyboard to take orders for the drive-thru,” said Blake. “I enjoy speaking with the customers each shift and brightening their day. They brighten my day as well.”

With the brand’s ability to make accommodations and recognize his talents as an endearing speaker, Blake quickly settled into his new role and embraced the brand’s culture.

“I can’t speak highly enough of A&W. My co-workers are great, and the managers and bosses are awesome,” he said. “I love the atmosphere, and our burgers are delicious, too. And ultimately, this job allows me to contribute financially and make a difference in people’s lives. It’s something I love to do.”

Blake was nicknamed “Dougie Fresh” during his stint as a radio DJ, and the nickname stuck as he transitioned to a new line of work. Now, with his radio experience and a voice of gold, he provides a charming welcome to drive-thru guests.

“Blake has really become the voice of our restaurant, and we are thankful for everything he brings to our team,” said Les Jespen, franchisee of the Inver Grove Heights A&W. “It’s our star performers like ‘Dougie Fresh’ that give A&W its personality and set the brand apart.”

The brand is now looking for star franchisees nationwide to guide and expand the company in Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida and Nevada. With years of momentum and plenty of white space, A&W anticipates significant expansion in the second half of 2022 and beyond.

The total investment necessary to begin operation, not including rent or land costs, is $871,000 to $1,469,554 for a Freestanding Restaurant; $401,000 to $1,051,088 for an Inline Restaurant; and $276,000 to $704,000 for a Captive Restaurant, including a $15,000-$30,000 franchise fee. For more information on franchising with A&W, please visit