Royal Farms, the Maryland-based gas station/convenience store/fried chicken store chain, is expanding in Delaware County, the home base for rival gas station/convenience store/hoagie chain Wawa Inc.

Royal opened on Kirkwood Highway just west of Wilmington, Del. earlier this year, and plans to add stores: in Ridley Township (where the developer was given $3.75 million in Pennsylvania taxpayer funds for the development that includes the store) this month; and in Upper Chichester next year.

Royal also has a site where it hopes to build a future store Concord Township (near the US 1/US 202 junction), and is looking for more across the Philadelphia area, according to its local broker, Zommick McMahon Commercial Real Estate Inc.

"The Delaware Valley is a natural extension for us," coming north from Delaware, Royal marketing manager Ed Stronski said in a statement.

Royal Farms, founded in 1959 by Baltimore's Cloverland Dairy, and owned by a third generation of the founding Kemp family (as Wawa is still partly owned by the Woods, and Sheetz by the Sheetzes), operates 160 stores in Maryland, Delaware and Virginia as well as Pa. (Wawa has 600 from North Jersey to Virginia, plus central Florida.)

Royal has been experimenting with a longer restaurant menu including mashed potatoes, three-bean barbecue, and what it calls meatball "subs," as hoagies are known in places like Baltimore.

Here's the planned Royal Farms locations in Delco, accoding to Zommick McMahon:
-  A parcel on Stewart Avenue just off the Ridley exit of I-95 across from the Boeing facility. A store is under construction and scheduled to open by year end.
-  A site at Route 452 and Meetinghouse Road in Upper Chichester, Pa., which is under contract and going through the approval process.
-  A site on McDade Boulevard in Glenolden, Pa., which is going through the approval process.