Oh no! As heard on BFM 89.9 this morning, Malaysia’s first drive-in restaurant A&W will be closed down by the end of this year.
As most of you might already know, A&W Restaurants is a chain of fast-food restaurants, distinguished by its draft root beer and root beer floats:
The A&W franchise was brought into Malaysia in 1963 by Mr and Mrs Lie Boff from USA. The Lie Boff family opened their first outlet in Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman making it the first fast food outlet in Malaysia. This was followed in 1965 with the first drive-in restaurant in Petaling Jaya. In 2001, A&W Malaysia was bought over by KUB Malaysia Sdn Bhd and in 2008, embarked on an aggressive expansion drive to revamp and expand its reach.
However, in 2012, the company reported that they will close 34 A&W outlets (24 in Malaysia and 10 in Thailand) to reposition its business and operations to achieve sustainable growth. Any outlet that is not making money will be shut down or relocated.
Yes, apparently this includes the iconic 24-hour A&W drive-in restaurant in Petaling Jaya.
It was also mentioned on BFM 89.9 that following the closure in December, the plot of land that used to house the A&W drive-in restaurant will be used for the development of two towering office blocks, to be known as KUB Tower, instead.
Upon the initial announcement, KUB Malaysia Sdn Bhd group managing director Wan Mohd Nor Wan Ahmad said:
We will retain only outlets that have heavy traffic based on the increase in sales, and we are looking at ways to increase customers’ satisfaction. The comprehensive plan has been approved by the board and the restructuring will address issues such as strengthening core competencies, enhancing business fundamentals, nurturing in-house talent and strengthening capital position.
Here’s a brief walk down memory lane for those of you who feel as nostalgic as we do about A&W:
- The company name was taken from the last name initials of partners, Roy Allenand and Frank Wright.
- The most famous A&W outlet is the first drive-in restaurant in Petaling Jaya, which opened in 1965 and quickly became a favourite gathering place for students, especially from the nearby Assunta and La Salle Secondary Schools.
- The unique A&W root beer mug was often “collected” by these young customers back then. “Collected” cough cough.
- It was THE filming location for Malaysian movies during the 70s and early 80s.
- Other than its signature draft rootbeer and rootbear float, A&W also serves typical fast food menu burgers, French fries as well as hot dogs.
- And who can forget the A&W waffles, served with either butter and syrup or ice-cream. Or plain, if you like. To each his or her own.
- Customers from the 70s (and 80s, even) will recall Tuesdays as “Coney Dog Day”.
- Most people who have been to the restaurant would also remember the “party room” where birthday celebrations and other events were often held and where the A&W bear would make surprise appearances.
- Most people who have been to the restaurant would also remember how children were more often than not afraid of the large but otherwise super friendly A&W Root Bear.
- During the mid-80s, A&W also operated a second Petaling Jaya outlet at the Atria Shopping Complex in Section SS22 Damansara Jaya. In Penang, A&W had an outlet at KOMTAR and Penang International Airport and has close down.
- During the 90s, A&W operated an outlet at Terminal 3 of the former Subang International Airport. This outlet ceased operations when the airport shifted from Subang to KLIA in 1998.
- To date, several more A&W outlets have been opened, mostly in shopping malls.
We’re quite bummed by the news as A&W was part of our childhood. Time to make a dash to the A&W drive-in restaurant before it closes down!
According to The Rakyat Post, A&W Malaysia franchise owner KUB Malaysia Bhd has denied its plans to close down its iconic 24-hour drive-through restaurant in Lorong Sultan, Petaling Jaya following its decision to construct two officer towers in its place. Responding to public outcry on the impending closure of the restaurant in December, the company reassured that the restaurant and its current concept would be integrated into the design of the tower buildings known as KUB Tower.
“We are not closing down the A&W PJ Drive Thru for good. It is going to be revamped and will only be shut for the next three years to facilitate the construction of the KUB Tower project. The 24-hour drive-in concept will be maintained under the revamp to give customers the same feel they experienced in the current restaurant,” said a company spokesperson, who declined to be named. She said that while the restaurant would be closed down from 2015 to 2018, the company had assured that restaurant’s new design would follow the iconic features of the old restaurant.
However, this report is different from The Edge Malaysia’s, who quoted KUB Malaysia Sdn Bhd group managing director Datuk Wan Mohd Nor Wan Ahmad in an interview and said that the current A&W restaurant will be closed by year-end and relocated to one of the new buildings when completed.
We’re not sure now whether A&W will be closed, revamped, or relocated?
In any case, do you guys have any memorable experiences/moments there? How many of you have celebrated your birthday or the birthday of someone you know at A&W drive-in restaurant in Petaling Jaya? Share it with us in the comments!