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Cruise on down to the A&W Drive-In
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The year-end Cruise Night in October is traditionally the highlight event at A&W Root Beer of Lodi. - photo by GLENN KAHL

LODI — Cruise Night is back at A&W Root Beer of Lodi.

From 5 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, this becomes the place in the 209 to hang out alongside the old classic cruise mobile and the new hot muscle cars while listening to great music and enjoying delicious food.

Cruise Night is scheduled every Thursday, from April through the mid-October.

They come together at the same A&W that’s been featured in a variety of television shows. “They actually make it a point to come here,” said owner Annette Knight.

Due to the size of the crowd, no carhop services are available during the carshow.

Knight, who has been part owner of the A&W All-American at 216 E. Lodi Ave., has seen them come far and wide, from Arizona to Southern California.

Locals and visitors alike can enjoy a scene reminiscent of the cruising heydays of 1950s and ’70s in the A&W parking lot.

The big event is the End of the Season Cruise in October where only pre-registered vehicles are showcased along Lodi Avenue and the Smart & Final Frontage with live music and a pancake breakfast being all part of the event.

A&W franchises once outnumbered McDonald’s some 40 years ago. But a lawsuit coupled with franchisee discontent and inconsistencies in the operation of the chain caused branches to close down.

A&W and Lodi are synonymous in that first was founded here by Roy W. Allen and Frank Wright – their last initials combined to produce the company name.

Allen served up his first frosty mug of the creamy root beer at 13 W. Pine St. in Lodi in June 1919. Three years later, he teamed up with Wright, in turn, branding the A&W Root Beer name.

A&W expanded to Sacramento in 1923 as a drive-in restaurant.

By 1933, A&W grew to more than 170 outlets in the West and Midwest, resuming its expansion after World War II to over 450 restaurants nationwide.

A&W became one of the few nationally established chains in the ’50s thanks to its popular drive-in services.

By 1960, A&W had grown to more than 2,000 restaurants, expanding into Canada, Guam and the Philippines.

In 1971, the root beer went from the drive-in to the grocery shelf to the grocery stores as the beverage division canned and bottled soft drinks for distribution.

A&W has undergone various changes.

The restaurant chain is owned by A Great American Brand, producing a variety of hamburgers and hotdogs couple with cheese curds and chicken.

Today, A&W has about 1,200 stores while servicing 16 countries and territories.

To contact reporter Vince Rembulat, email