Sunday, August 10, 2014

A&W Padang Timur: A Revisit

Ever since the news broke out on KUB's plans to close the A&W Padang Timur outlet by the end of the year to make way for some office towers, many of us felt we were going to lose an icon to progress and profit. No doubt about it, this particular A&W branch is the very first A&W outlet in Petaling Jaya and has a very special place in many of our hearts, especially for those who have lived in PJ since 1970s.

I remember when I was a little kid and living in Paramount Garden, my dad would always buy A&W fried chicken (those days, there was the buy 10 pcs get one gallon root beer FOC). Ahhh who can forget the rootbeer straight from the tap? Using the iconic A&W rootbeer chilled mug, filling it with cold rootbeer and topping it with two scoops of creamy vanilla ice-cream. Back then, A&W fried chicken was the best fried chicken ever. That was before other fast food franchises came into the picture.

I will have to say... the downfall of A&W probably began after the franchise was taken over by KUB. Somehow, food quality and service just kept deteriorating, resulting in A&W losing its charm. That's the problem when you let inexperience companies handle F&B. All that introduction of new burgers and bla, they should've just stuck to the rootbeer, coney dog, fried chicken an awesome waffles (because that is what A&W really is about, good ol' All American food).

During the recent Raya break, my crazy sibling was back for the holidays and we decided to head over to A&W Padang Timur branch for lunch. The outlet was packed to the brim, with a long line of folks queuing for their orders, two childrens' party indoors, and loads of people taking pictures of the premise. I don't think that branch has ever experience such an overwhelming crowd before.

While my husband took a seat, the crazy sibling and I queued at the counter. You would think all counters would be open to cater to the crowd, but no. Only two counters were opened. Never mind, we had the patience because this is A&W, and we were here really for the nostalgia. As we shuffled along, I noticed there was no queue for the waffle line, so I made a mental note to include a waffle in my order. As I was about to reach the counter, they opened up two more counters (thank goodness).

To keep the story short, we waited in line for one hour for our food, and another hour for our waffle at the waffle counter. Service was immensely slow, they were understaffed, some of the staff were part-timers and had no clue what they were doing and the lady manning the waffle counter didn't know how to properly time the waffle cooking time at all (hence the long wait). Business is already bad on most days, and now that the crowd is swelling due to the news about the outlet closing down, I believe every patron is just there to relive the moment for a little while, back to the good ol' days of A&W, before things went spiraling down for the brand.

As a consolation, we had 8 pcs of fried chicken (I ordered 6), our rootbeer float came with two scopes (I asked for single scope), and our waffle was made by a senior member of the staff (the table next to us had bad waffles, they were repeatedly stabbing it because it was overcooked). If KUB doesn't embark on a turnaround strategy to keep A&W alive, it's a gonner, and would be a very very sad way to see the brand go because of KUB's incompetence.