Photos from Carol and Mark's Journey to Lodi.

These Fans Took a Road Trip to the Birthplace of A&W Restaurants

Today we're sharing the story of two AWesome fans — Carol & Mark — who took a road trip to Lodi, CA, the birthplace of A&W Restaurants in honor of our 100th anniversary. We talked with Carol about their inspiration behind the journey, favorite A&W memories, and more. 

Top Photo: Carol and Mark pose in front of Rooty the Great Root Bear statue with A&W Lodi, CA owner Pete Knight; Bottom photo: Carol and Mark post in front of a Rooty the Great Root Bear statue with team members at the Lodi, WI A&W.
Photo Credit: Carol Wohlfeil
Top: Carol & Mark with Pete Knight, Owner of the Lodi, CA A&W.
Bottom: Carol & Mark with Team Member Joey at the Lodi, WI A&W.

What inspired you to take this Journey to Lodi?

About 10 years ago, Mark saw an A&W advertisement which said, “since 1919.“ After doing some research he found that Roy Allen had opened his first root beer stand in Lodi, California in 1919. And it was then that he decided he would travel to Lodi in 2019 to be a part of the 100-year celebration. His original plan was simply to drive to California, have lunch at A&W Lodi, snap a few pictures, and return home — and he stuck to that plan for nearly a decade. About a year ago, Mark invited me to join him on this journey. As we planned the trip we decided to see how many A&W Restaurants we could find along the way. I created our travel journal from a notebook and a 2-liter soda bottle label and titled it “Journey to Lodi.“ The plan was simply to record our stops, take a few pictures, and maybe get an autograph or two from managers who took an interest in what we were doing.

How many A&W stops did you make on your trek? Please list them in order.

Our first A&W stop was in Hutchinson, Kansas where we met manager Brendan. We explained our plan to travel to Lodi, California from Wisconsin to celebrate the 100 year anniversary and asked if he would consider writing a little something in our journal. Brendan graciously took time from his busy schedule to introduce us to his team, take a few pictures with us, and write in our journal. It was his warm welcome and enthusiasm for our adventure that set the pace for the remainder of our travels and turned a simple road trip to California into the “Journey to Lodi” that was followed by family, friends, and A&W fans across the country.

Along the way to Lodi, California we had the pleasure of meeting Scott and his team in Alamogordo, New Mexico; Seth and the gang in Tucson, Arizona; Elaine and the ladies in Tulare, California; and Carmen and her crew in Visalia, California.

On March 26, 2019, day six of our journey, we arrived in Lodi, California for lunch. We had the honor of spending some time with Pete, owner of A&W Lodi, who shared some history, showed us his huge collection of memorabilia, and directed us to the site of the original root beer stand on Pine Street. It was a wonderful day!

Our journey home took us to manager Jennifer at Modesto, California; Alexander and his group in Turlock, California; Vincent, owner of Holbrook, Arizona; Gina and her team in Olathe, Kansas; and Mariah in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. We could think of no better place to end our “Journey to Lodi” than at our 12th stop in Lodi, Wisconsin where we met Joey and his team.

Team Member Mariah at the Cedar Rapids, IA A&W
Photo Credit: Carol Wohlfeil
Team Member Mariah at the A&W in Cedar Rapids, IA

What was your favorite part of your journey?

By far, our favorite part of our “Journey to Lodi“ was meeting so many wonderful people at the A&W locations we visited and seeing how excited they were to be a special part of this. To see so many people acknowledge them along with us was more than we could have ever imagined.

What is your earliest or favorite A&W memory?

Mark and I have loved A&W since we were kids. Growing up near Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Mark enjoyed stopping for a cold root beer to drink on the way home after finishing his paper route. And I remember the hot summer Sundays Dad would take the family to the A&W  drive-in for a burger and a frosted root beer.

What is your favorite A&W menu item?

These days it’s a Papa Burger, onion rings, and a root beer float for him; grilled chicken sandwich, cheese curds, and a root beer float for me. 

You can see more photos & stories from Carol and Pete's road trip by joining the Official A&W Restaurants Facebook Group!