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From Fan to Franchisee: How Dee Wells Became a Multi-Unit A&W Owner

After working at a root beer stand when she was 15, Wells may have been destined to become an A&W franchise owner.

By Derek Stephens1851 Franchise Contributor
SPONSORED 11:11AM 11/18/22

Dee Wells and her husband are veteran business owners in Wisconsin who plan to create a legacy with A&W Restaurants, the iconic restaurant brand with 500-plus units across the country. The brand has experienced rapid growth in the last decade thanks to business-savvy franchisees, and in return, it offers unrivaled support to its franchise owners.

“I could tell from early conversations that A&W had my back,” said Wells. “I can call them right now, and they would know me personally because they make an effort to treat their franchisees like family. You aren’t just a store number with them, and they truly want you to succeed. The communication has always been outstanding and that is the reason I chose to franchise with them.”

Wells’ first job was working in a root beer stand when she was 15, starting as a carhop and eventually managing the stand. When she married, she started a carwash, gas station and convenience store. Because the convenience store experienced such high traffic, the couple decided an A&W restaurant would be a perfect addition.

“After three years with a successful A&W location in our gas station, we wanted to expand to a stand-alone location,” she said. “We are currently expanding to the Altoona area and hoping to be open by early January. We are also looking to expand to Cadott and open by May 2023.”

As a business owner, Wells is closely tied to her community and those that visit her businesses. Her passion is to give back to those that have supported her businesses for so long.

“We do a lot for the community,” she said. “Being involved in my community is probably one of the most important things to me as a business owner. I was raised in this area, and I love the community feel of a small town. I make sure that as a business, I do whatever I can to give back to the community that gives to me.”

Moving forward, Wells has significant plans for expansion with the A&W brand. 

“My personal goal is to have 10 restaurants by the time I retire,” she said. “If my two new locations do well in the future, I will continue to expand in those areas. This is a brand I can see my family being involved in even after I retire, so I want to set them up for success.”

In 2023 and beyond, A&W seeks qualified franchise owners for development in Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida and Nevada. 

The total investment necessary to begin operation, not including rent or land costs, is $871,000 to $1,454,750 for a Freestanding Restaurant; $401,000 to $1,013,750 for an Inline Restaurant; and $276,000 to $704,000 for a Captive Restaurant, including a $15,000-$30,000 franchise fee. To learn more about franchise opportunities with A&W Restaurants, please visit