A&W Restaurant, 3751 South 27th St., will have to relocate to Caledonia because of the new interchange being built at Highway K and Interstate 94.
The restaurant makes their own root beer and is one of the oldest drive-in restaurants in the area.
Sharon and Frank, who have owned the business since 1974, are still ironing things with DOT; but they expect to start building the new restaurant in the spring. The new building will be located just to the east of the _Pilot_ gas station on the north side of Highway K and the old building will be razed. A new road will also divide the Pilot and newly built restaurant, which the DOT will pay up to $200,000 of.
Sharon said they’ve known about the road construction since 1995, but the DOT changed the plans in 2007 and those changes would have negatively impacted their business. So they decided to move the business to Caledonia.
“They’ve (Caledonia officials) been very good to work with,” she said. “They let us know right away that ‘Yes, you’re the type of business we want here,’ and they’ve been very welcoming.”
But Sharon has mixed feelings about the move. On one hand she and Frank don’t relish the idea of taking down their current building.
“We like being on this side, but on the east side of the frontage road the traffic is higher. So, we regret leaving the building because we like this style of building, but we can’t rebuild it and there’s some bitterness about that,” she said.
But on the other hand, the move represents a fresh start for their son Philip, who will be the third generation to own the business. Philip, who quit his job as a software engineer, is spearheading the building project by going to all of the lawyer appointments, Sharon said.
This isn’t the first time the restaurant has had to be relocated.
Franklin and Dorothy Welch, Frank’s parents, started running the first A&W Restaurant in 1954, which had been located off of the Highway K exit. Their home and a tavern were also located on the property. But when the Interstate was built in 1958, they had to relocate the restaurant to its current location. But it’s always been in Raymond and it’s the oldest restaurant in Raymond – until now.