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ORLANDO, Fla. – Wawa Inc., the Pennsylvania -based chain of more than 630 convenience stores, today held a grand opening here for its newest Florida location, situated on S. Orange Avenue.
The grand opening celebration was set to kick-off this morning with state and local officials, members of the Orange County Sherriff’s Department and Orange County Fire Department, store associates, and Wawa’s mascot, Wally Goose, for a ceremonial ribbon cutting.
“We are thrilled to expand our presence in Florida with the opening of our 29th Florida location and cannot think of a better way to celebrate than by recognizing the great value our firefighters and police provide to this community by keeping it safe," said Chris Gheysens, Wawa’s CEO. “Our grand opening festivities are a wonderful way to bring the community and our local heroes together to celebrate our commitment to the city of Orlando.”
After opening 25 stores in its first 13 months in Florida, Wawa expects to have 30 to 45 stores in the central Florida region by the end of this year. The company is currently pursuing more sites for ground-up units and its goal is to open between 20 and 25 stores per year in the area.
Earlier this month, Wawa was honored by Convenience Stores News as its 2013 Retailer Innovator of the Year for its successful entry into Florida, innovative use of social media, a mobile app initiative and continued focus on the consumer. The retailer was featured on the cover of CSNews’ October 2013 issue.
Hoagies for Heroes Competition
The grand opening event was scheduled to include a Hoagies for Heroes hoagie building competition, as the Orange County Sherriff’s Department and Orange County Fire Department faced off in a battle to test their sandwich-making expertise. Each team was challenged to see which could build the most hoagies in three minutes in the “traditional Wawa way.” Wawa planned to present $1,000 checks on behalf of the winning and runner-up teams to their charities of choice.
The new store employs more than 50 associates, all of which are new positions brought to the area through the development of the store. Associates in these full- and part-time positions not only receive competitive salaries and health benefits, but have the opportunity to be enrolled in Wawa’s employee stock ownership plan.
The new Wawa store offers customers numerous proprietary brands, such as the award-winning Wawa coffee (195 million cups sold annually); the Sizzli, Wawa’s hot breakfast sandwich; Wawa’s new line of specialty beverages (hot, cold, iced and frozen); Wawa Bakery; Wawa’s built-to-order hoagies (80 million sold annually); and Wawa’s beverage line of dairy products, juices and teas.