After months of planning and preparation, the newly remodeled Long John Silver’s and A&W All American Food Restaurant joint establishment, 3380 Vine, has finally opened its doors to the public.

A large crowd arrived to check out the A&W addition during the grand opening celebration Wednesday.

“We’ve been off and on working on this project for approximately three months, and we used all local vendors and contractors to get the job done,” said Marc Schmidt, the area coach.

Schmidt said the first steps involved receiving approval from both A&W and Long John Silver’s to operate as a franchisee.

“From there, it was just about contacting contractors and developers to get the process along,” he said.

Local residents were thrilled the process was finally complete as they lined up at the door during the grand opening.

The first 100 guests received free A&W mugs.

“It’s something different,” said Dena Rupp, Hays, as she stood in line. “It’s nice to have a place to get good root beer, and what’s not to love about new fast food?”

As they made their way through the door, customers were excited to view the new menu items.

Sharon Rhine, Hays, was first in line at the grand opening. She sat in a booth enjoying her root beer and menu item No. 1 — a Papa Burger, which has two beef patties, two slices of American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles and A&W’s signature Papa Sauce on a butter-toasted bun.

“It’s great to have this fabulous food and a good root beer float,” she said.

The A&W opening was special for Rhine in a different kind of way, as she and her late father, John, used to drive to Russell’s A&W to enjoy meals together all the time.

“Now it’s just me, but I’m thinking about him today,” she said. “He would have liked this.”

Customers seemed to be most excited about the menu variety all under one roof.

“As a parent, I’m excited because it’s difficult to find family options where everyone is happy,” said Tammy Wellbrock, Hays Area Chamber of Commerce executive director. “I think this is a win-win for everyone.”

Franchisee Eric Estes said there was even more to look forward to for A&W, Long John Silver’s and Qdoba customers.

“We will have a little dog park we’re going to work on in the back for A&W, Long John Silver’s and Qdoba visitors, so you can bring your little fuzzy critter here,” he said. “We want to make it dog friendly to travelers on I-70, as well.”

Estes said perhaps the high selling point for the new joint venture is that the root beer is made fresh, right here in Hays, and the history of A&W, which traces back to 1919 will remain vibrant.

“Handcrafted root beer is always a rarity today, and the reason we franchise A&W is because of its heritage,” he said.

The joint establishment is open Monday through Thursday from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.