When a new Wawa opens in Philadelphia, the occasion’s nothing short of a big party.
Lines form early, the Eagles Pep Band plays the theme from Rocky. As my colleague Stephanie Farr wrote about the recent opening of Wawa’s largest store, located near Independence Hall, the events are “peak Philly.”
But what about in Florida? The Wawa-obsessed got a chance to find out Thursday, when the chain launched its first Miami locations, according to the South Florida Business Journal.
Reaction to the openings varied. There was chatter on social media over free air and cheap gas — photos showed Wawa pricing regular gasoline at $2.25 a gallon Thursday morning, while AAA reported a $2.78 average price for fuel in Miami-Dade County. General excitement ensued, with one Twitter user describing the openings as “a dream come true,” another calling them “truly amazing.”
“The Wawa fever is real in Miami,” one user wrote.
Ribbon cuttings, giveaways, and prizes were marking the openings, according to Miami New Times. The publication listed five can’t-miss items in ultimate news-you-can-use fashion, including hoagies, a “customizable coffee station,” breakfast Sizzlis, the iced tea-lemonade mix called half and half, and Tastykakes.
“Really, you haven’t lived until you’ve had a bacon croissant Sizzli, the name of Wawa’s branded breakfast sandwiches,” the article reads.
But the fever hasn’t spread to everyone, apparently.
A reporter for the Miami Herald who attended a “VIP tasting” Wednesday came out swinging in a story headlined, “Is nothing sacred? Miami’s new Wawa stores are selling pastelitos and coladas.”
" ... the fine but fanatical people of Philly and New Jersey, deeply besotted with their gas station hoagies, keep urging us to be grateful that we can now join the cult of Wawa," Connie Ogle wrote, before admitting that the empanadas were, well, “pretty good.”
She continued, sarcastically, “Maybe we should be glad, since no other store or restaurant in the greater metro area sells subs or coffee or potato chips or sodas or smoothies or salads or pastelitos or gum.”
The Miami locations also have “the chain’s first-ever walk-up windows,” installed as “a nod to the local culture,” Patch.com reported.
“These empanadas have been inspired by the Miami market. We brought in guava pastries, guava cheese pastries, cafecitos,” David Prevost, Wawa’s director of store operations in South Florida, told the publication. “Croquetas are in the works, a lot of new food that is inspired by (Miami) — and not to lose our DNA, because we are still all hoagies. We still are coffee — soft pretzels. We do have a cheesesteak.”
The additions shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Wawa has been taking a different approach to its food, from grain bowls and fair-trade coffee to catering, as a way to adapt to consumers’ palettes as it expands.
“We’re trying to be innovative,” Wawa CEO Chris Gheysens told the Inquirer in April. “We’re sort of that small hometown Philadelphia company, but I think people get a sense we’re growing.”