A&W in Ottawa: Hope and Root Beer Floats

I was driving down Hawthorne Road in search of a farm stall selling corn, when I spied this incredible sight -- an all-night A&W stuck in the middle of nowhere.

Man, that brings me back.

Growing up in St. Catharines, there wasn't a lot to do if you didn't play hockey or row for your high school. But you could take your fake I.D. and get into a heavy metal bar to watch a band like Thor and the Imps, pictured below with me in their clutches. Hey! I was interviewing them!

Anyways, after the bar, a bunch of us would cruise down to A&W for chili dogs, Papa Teen Burgers and some very frosty root beer. We'd crank up the tunes, slide our car windows down and scarf down the best fast food in town. I don't remember girls on roller skates, but I'm told our A&W had them.

There were lots of other fast food joints, of course. There was Tim Horton's -- the original Timmies, which was close to the spot on the Queen Elizabeth where Tim Horton met his horrific ending.

And there were other joints like McDonald's, Dairy Queen and The Red Barn.

But A&W was the best. It had atmosphere.

Quick joke. Ronald McDonald took the Dairy Queen behind the Red Barn and gave her a Quarter Pounder. Hah! God, you have to love high school humor.

Anyways, back to A&W. I was truly heartbroken when A&W closed its doors and was only to be found in mall food courts.

Imagine my surprise to see this spot opened up in my neighborhood.

Much has changed. You have to drive thru, you can't actually sit at the window eating your food. And the patties are no longer made of mystery meat. A&W has gone all ethical on us, providing us with meat patties from more posh cattle, the ones who get manicures and blow dries. The ones who gave Temple Grandin a tip on their way up the ramp.

I'm happy to spend a little more on my burger knowing that the poor cows haven't been crammed into tiny quarters like serial killers. I imagine them running through fields with flowers in their hair, being serenaded by Joni Mitchell until they have to walk the plank.

A&W is also selling sweet potato fries, a lot of chicken sandwiches and onion rings! So you don't have to eat a mama, a papa or an icky teenager.

What is the same is the fabulous root beer still sold in frosty mugs. Oh, man, it is so nice to chug a lug a root beer in something that isn't going into the water table.


So give it a go.

A&W is still going strong.

Even without the chicks on roller skates.



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