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The Great Franchisees: Jim Sprick and Jim Sill, A&W Restaurants, Arnold, Missouri

Friends-Turned-Business Partners To Bring A&W Restaurants Back to the St. Louis Area.

By Jodie OBrien1851 Franchise Contributor
Updated 12:00AM 07/05/22

On their own, Jim Sprick and Jim Sill have had undeniable business success. Together, with 50 years of combined experience in the restaurant and beverage industry and having co-founded the Pinnacle Hospitality Group, the two gentlemen have joined forces to own and operate as many as 18 Long John Silver’s and A&W locations in the Midwest and California. Now, the duo’s expansion plans include bringing the iconic A&W brand to Arnold, Missouri this May. 

The St. Louis area once boasted a total of 13 locations that over the years dwindled due to many older franchisee retirements. Jim Sprick and Jim Sill, who were introduced to each other by a mutual friend, each recognized the other’s passion for business. Both men looking for a career change, after more than two decades of experience with Yum! Brands and Anheuser-Busch, the duo plans to bring a legacy A&W standalone restaurant to Arnold, Missouri and then cross the Mississippi River and do the same in Bellville, Illinois this Fall. 

Jim & Jim spoke with us about their journey with the A&W which has 500-plus locations across the country.

1851 Franchise: Tell me your story – what did you do before franchising?

Jim Sill: I have worked in the restaurant industry since I was 16 years old, starting as a dishwasher and delivery person. I had a 25-plus-year career with Yum! Brands, where I served in many different operational roles both on the corporate and franchise sides. At one point, I was leading hundreds of restaurants in multiple states. Sprick also has more than 25 years of experience in the beverage business with the Busch family, of Anheuser-Busch, which makes us very unique franchise owners. We’re accessible to our employees and we’re very hands-on. I deal with the operations and communicate daily with our two above store leaders. I could go in tomorrow and flip hamburgers on the grill if needed. 

Jim Sprick: I had a 25-plus year career with Anheuser-Busch, and also had a personal connection with the Busch family. In July of 2008 when Anheuser-Busch was purchased by InBev, I stayed for about a year before I decided to retire from my role. I am also in commercial real estate, but my focus on that business has waned since our acquisition of the restaurants. I continue to be on the lookout for more opportunities to grow the A&W brand.  

1851: How did you initially find out about franchising and what was your perception of franchising before becoming a franchise owner?

Sill: Sprick and I have been involved in the franchising industry for what seems like our whole careers. We were introduced by a mutual friend and were given the opportunity to acquire a few restaurants, and one of those franchises was a Long John Silver’s and A&W location.

1851: How did you decide you wanted to be a franchisee?

Sill: Before I decided to pursue business ownership, I was running 120-plus restaurants across the country. Every Monday, I would leave St. Louis at 6:00 a.m. and travel between Louisiana, Texas, North Carolina and Ohio. I was honestly tired of traveling and began looking at opportunities closer to home. After being introduced by a mutual friend, Sprick and I decided to pursue franchise ownership together. Seven years later, we continue to be on the lookout for more opportunities to grow the A&W brand.

1851: Why did you pick A&W? What excited you most about the potential?

Sill: A&W, which is more than 100 years old, is experiencing a renaissance period. We’re finding that the brand is especially popular in legacy towns, where A&Ws existed 30 or 40 years ago but closed. That’s a big reason why we’ve chosen to open this location in Arnold. While multi-brand locations saw a surge in popularity around 15 years ago, the standalone model is experiencing growth, and A&W is leveraging that momentum. People find comfort in the brand, and we’re able to help them relive their memories from childhood with their families now. I couldn’t tell you the number of stories I’ve heard from guests about their first dates in an A&W restaurant or going every Sunday after church with their parents.

Sprick: We’ve continued to pursue franchise opportunities with A&W because of the corporate infrastructure and business model. We’re able to easily communicate with the decision-makers of A&W, like CEO Kevin Bazner. The corporate team is accessible, and we feel that we’re heard when we come with an idea. We also feel comfortable communicating and collaborating with the team to discuss how we want to design a restaurant.

1851: What are your dreams with the business? What does the future look like?

Sill: We plan on growing with the brand and would like to open additional standalone models. Once upon a time, the St. Louis market had 13 locations, and we are currently the owners of the only A&W location open now. We do have two other locations in development for our home market. Sprick and I are always on the lookout for new opportunities, but we put an emphasis on creating successful restaurants. We would rather prioritize quality over quantity. That being said, we’d like to open between one to two locations a year.

We look forward to bringing A&W back to the market and offering local residents experiences their grandparents enjoyed decades ago. We’re aiming to open the Arnold restaurant May 9th. 

1851: What advice would you have for others looking at buying a franchise?

Sill: Get to know the leadership team. To be truly successful, you need to have an honest relationship where you feel comfortable collaborating with the corporate partners and having frank and transparent conversations that are good for the franchisee and the franchisor. You also need to understand that there are good and bad times in any business. Faith and perseverance are two necessary qualities in franchising.

Established in 1919 in Lodi, CA as a roadside stand, A&W Restaurants now stands as a thriving part of the American experience. With 500-plus locations across the country, including 300 standalone restaurants, the brand remains a one-of-a-kind true original. Even its signature A&W Root Beer, served in an iconic frosty mug, is handcrafted at the restaurant. Today, that traditional approach is resonating strongly with consumers, who are looking for authentic brands. For more information, visit