Wawa Inc., which grew from a home milk-delivery company to a regional convenience-store powerhouse, will start selling beer at its Chadds Ford store Thursday.
The reopening of the store on Naamans Creek Road, radically refitted to accommodate a 30-seat restaurant to comply with state regulations, will culminate a complicated, 18-month process involving the chain, the Liquor Control Board, and the Concord Township Board of Supervisors.
Wawa said it had no immediate plans to sell beer at other stores but might do so depending on what happens at Chadds Ford.
Having beer sales begin in Delaware County is fitting for the chain, where Wawa — which takes its name from the word for "wild goose" in Longfellow's "Song of Hiawatha" — got its start as a dairy farm at the turn of the 20th century, and where it opened its first convenience store in 1964.
Along with the signature coffee and sandwich stations, the Chadds Ford store is equipped with a "beer cooler," a refrigerator stocked with craft brews, such as Dogfish Head and Yards, as well as imports and national behemoths like Budweiser.
Despite the renovations, part of chain-wide upgrades, "it will look like a Wawa," said company spokeswoman Lori A. Bruce.
In July 2015, Wawa applied to sell beer at Chadds Ford, but met pushback from some residents. It wasn't until this month that the township supervisors gave final approval.
To comply with the state's complex and in some instances peculiar alcohol laws, customers will be limited to purchasing no more than two six-packs at a time. Wawa on its own will limit customers to consuming one beer in the store.
Many LCB regulations date to the end of Prohibition, but there has been considerable change in the last three years.
The state's 1,000-plus beer distributors now can sell in quantities other than a case. Shoppers also can buy up to two six-packs at bars, delicatessens or restaurants, and some convenience stores. Add the Chadds Ford Wawa to the list.
But a store official added one cautionary note: There won't be a can or bottle opener, so bring your own if you want to wash down that hoagie with a brew.