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A&W to open sometime in May

Scott Csernyik

4/11/2002 12:00:00 AM

The Leaton Road sign at Sagamok Shell has an optimistic message posted for those who are anticipating the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe's latest business endeavor:

"Coming soon A & W."

Those ice-cold mugs of root beer will be served on the Isabella Reservation sometime in early May, according to Manager Norm Sorenson.

"We're still waiting for the restaurant equipment to be delivered and installed," he explained. Twenty different companies from across the country are responsible for the necessary components of the restaurant-from grills and fryers to tables, counters and the interior woodwork. "The economy slowed and these companies were not making equipment or products in advance. Everything was being done on an as-needed basis. Every day we get 20 to 30 people wanting to know when we're going to open."

The expansion project, which included doubling the convenience store size to 5,600-square-feet, also meant a larger parking area and the addition of three fueling islands. Sorenson also said they are in the process of hiring about two dozen new staff for the facility over the next several weeks.

The restaurant portion of the facility will seat about 30 people and a drive-through is located on the west side of the facility. Besides A&W's trademark root beer, the business will also offer hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, coney dogs, as well as onion rings and french fries. Individuals will also be able to place orders by fax. A&W merchandise, including glass mugs, are also expected to be sold at the store.

Tentative hours have been set for 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. during the week and from 10 a.m. to midnight on weekends. Sorenson said they hope to have a grand opening sometime in late May or early June.

The Leaton and Broadway road facility will be the first Shell station in the country to feature digital gas pricing. These signs, according to Sorenson, will be installed sometime in the middle of May.

"The community will have a state-of-the-art facility for them to frequent, whether it's for gasoline, merchandise or food," he added.

Nostalgic pictures will decorate the restaurant's interior, which also includes A&W wallpaper, various woodwork and a large mural depicting a bustling drive-in restaurant from the 1950s.

Sagamok Shell celebrated its opening on Nov. 3, 1995. "Sagamok" is an Ojibwe word which suggests the idea of a meeting point.