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A&W Restaurant

Franksville, WI
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Cree® LED lighting shines on A&W to draw more night time business while saving on energy and maintenance costs.



For 60 years, the Welch family has been operating the A&W Restaurant in Franksville, Wisconsin, but when construction began on a major highway where the restaurant was located, the restaurant’s future was in doubt.

Located off I-94 and Highway K, the A&W Restaurant’s property became land-locked when construction began to expand I-94 into an eight-lane highway. The restaurant was forced to use a highway on-ramp as a driveway, which limited accessibility for customers. In order to keep the family business operating, Brittany Welch, Site and Marketing Manager, set out to rebuild the restaurant in a new location. “

We were lucky that there was land available on the other side of the interstate highway, so we started to rebuild,” said Welch.


When reviewing the lighting plan for the new restaurant, Welch decided to go all LED. Since Cree is known for state of-the-art LED lighting, Welch contacted Pat Bohon, National Accounts Sales Manager and Nick Ekstowicz, National Inside Sales Manager to help guide her through the project. “We didn’t go back once we started on the road with Cree, Welch said. “They had ideas about how the restaurant could be lit and how we could save energy. Everybody was very nice, easy to communicate with and very professional.”

In the old parking lot, A&W was leasing 400 watt pulse start metal halide lights from the energy company. For the new parking lot, they installed 14 Cree Edge™ High Output luminaires with Cree poles and tenons.

“We have the lights set for occupancy. When the last employee leaves, the lights turn off in 10-15 minutes so that the employee can get to his/her car,” said Welch. “

We also have a sensor on the roof that detects daylight and turns the lights on if it’s cloudy.”

Inside, 82 CR6™ downlights and 22 CR24™ troffers were installed in the kitchen and dining areas. The CR Series downlights were installed using the RC6 recessed housing, and four of the CR Series troffers were installed with the emergency backup option.


Welch estimates that she is saving $800 per month on her gas and electric bill when compared to what she was paying at the previous location. When compared to incumbent technologies, the new restaurant will achieve 56% in energy savings and a payback of 2.8 years.*

Since Cree LED lights are designed to be nearly maintenance free for more than a decade, A&W is saving time and money by not replacing bulbs. In addition, A&W received rebates from the local utility company, further accelerating their payback.

“Our statewide energy efficiency program, Focus on Energy, was really excited that we went with energy efficient LED products,” said Welch.

The Cree LED lights have helped improve A&W’s business too.

“We’ve seen our nighttime business improve with Cree® LED products,” said Welch.“

The Cree® LED lights create a safe and welcoming environment for our customers.” Welch has received many compliments about how wonderful the restaurant looks.

“Our old exterior lights were like spot lights ― we like Cree® LED products a lot better,” said Welch. “We are happy with how the light is precisely distributed now. It’s nice that we are not lighting the road or other properties.

”She further stated that she likes that the light is even and not visually overpowering. “Previously, we had T12 lights in the kitchen ― now with the Cree® lights, we can see while cooking, the kitchen looks clean and the whole atmosphere is happier and crisp,” said Welch.

The comments don’t stop at the kitchen. “We have received compliments that the dining room is warm and inviting – and that our parking lot looks much nicer than the typical restaurant parking lots they see,” said Welch.

*Payback and energy savings are based on the national average electricity rate, recommended maintenance schedule, and typical maintenance costs over common assessment periods (application life).