April 17, 2024


The hoagie haven of the East Coast has big plans to expand. Wawa, a Pennsylvania-based convenience store chain with a loyal customer base, currently has around 1,000 store locations, most of which are concentrated in Eastern and Southern states. But Bloomberg reports that Wawa’s owners are ready to bring the chain to new markets over the next 10 years.

The first Wawa was opened by Grahame Wood in 1964, and the chain remains in the family to this day. The Wood family plans to open 280 more Wawa locations in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, and Tennessee.

It seems Wawa has been prepping itself to please the palates of non–New Jersey and Pennsylvania natives for some time. In 2022, the convenience store chain took a fairly big step outside its current menu offerings by adding a chalupa to its dinner menu. While that combination of pulled pork, beans, salsa, and cheese is no longer available, the company has taken other big swings with its prepared food.

Last year, Wawa added pizza to its permanent menu, available daily after 4 p.m. in 14″ or 16″ sizes. Our review of the pizza was less than favorable, but Wawa is nevertheless thriving.

Although improvements to the quality of its pizza might need to be made, Wawa is smart to hang onto its latest innovation as it looks to expand. The chain has its loyal customers on the East Coast, but as it attempts to grow in the Midwest it will be facing stiff competition with another beloved convenience store chain, Casey’s. If Wawa is known for its hoagies and sandwiches, Casey’s is renowned for its gas station pizza.

With more than 2,600 locations in 16 states, Casey’s is also on its own aggressive path toward growth. Chief financial officer Steve Bramlage announced at an event back in June that Casey’s plans to increase its store count by 350 locations by 2026, C-Store Dive reported at the time. The chain’s leadership is hoping to open new locations in Colorado, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

Both Wawa and Casey’s might face some challenges as they grow. In some of the states where Casey’s is looking to expand, Wawa already has a fan base that will be hard pressed to switch over when Wawa already offers a wide variety of foods (including pizza). On the other hand, Wawa’s less than flavorful pizza is unlikely to impress the pizza fanatics of the Midwest. Let the convenience store wars begin.

This article originally appeared on The Takeout.



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