Probably Not the Way to Run a Restaurant

DESCRIPTIONPhoto: jetalone

I happened to be driving by an A&W restaurant the other day. I also happened to be thirsty. So I stopped in to order a frosty mug of root beer.

“We’re out of root beer,” the worker told me.

How can A&W run out of root beer? It doesn’t seem like the inventory costs associated with keeping a small buffer stock of your marquee product are very large. You might think that the first rule at A&W would be to always have root beer.

In defense of the restaurant, it was 11 am and the store had just opened. Perhaps the new shipment of root beer had gotten unexpectedly delayed and was arriving any minute.

Two days later, I once again found myself thirsty as I was driving by this same A&W. So I stopped in to order a frosty mug of root beer.

“I’m sorry,” the worker said, “We’re out of root beer.”

I think it is no coincidence that A&W and KFC are owned by the same company.

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  1. coldtusker says:

    Sigh, so they have other stuff but not what they are famous for? ROOT BEER????

    How can you be out of a product that comes in a concentrated form/liquid & all it needs is a little CO2 + water???

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  2. Travers says:

    I saw on Food Network that A&W’s in the US make their own root beer in the back from a mix from the corporate office + cane sugar + carbonated water.

    The A&W’s here in Canada used to be owned by Unilever, and a friend of mine who works in the States says the Canadian A&W’s are much better than American ones. Especially the food.

    Hmm, according to wikipedia, A&W Canada is now privately owned through a management buyout.

    All I know is, when you come to Canada: try the A&W Mozza burger. It is so vastly superior to anything the A&W US restaurants serve.

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  3. Robert says:

    Stores run out of stock all the time; restaurants are much like stores with limited stock (lest said stock go bad). It’s really not that hard to believe that they were out of root beer, even for a couple of days.

    I work at a pizza place; we’ve been “dangerously” low on dough a couple of times – we’ve had 2-3 busy days’ worth of sales on what is normally a slow day, and we can’t get the truck there any faster, so we hope we don’t run out before the truck comes for its next scheduled delivery.

    The clerk may also have been fibbing a bit; it may be that the root beer dispenser was broken; it’s sometimes easier to apologize for running out of an item than to explain that the tube is broken (quoth the customer “well, then, use a different tube”).

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  4. MRB says:

    I think the outages are planner, or at least, not avoided. Once you go in the store or drive through, it’s very unlikely that you don’t make a purchase. So why keep high stock levels of your cheapest items, when if you don’t have it, the customer is likely to,urchase something a little more expensive?

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  5. Mark Adler says:

    Once on long drive I stopped for a cup of coffee at a Dunkin Donuts. Caving in to my sweet tooth I also ordered a doughnuts. They were out. Out of doughnuts. At Dunkin Donuts.

    I wasn’t upset; just amused.

    It’s been a few years, and your story here, Steven, reminded me of it.

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  6. adora says:

    Arby’s in Miami often run out of roast beef.

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  7. Nic says:

    I was at an Arby’s once that was out of roast beef.

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  8. Mike says:

    In the last five years I have been to two Italian restaurants, who have discovered they had “run out of pasta” just as the evening shift was beginning, and evidently not had anyone willing to run down to the supermarket and buy some retail product.

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