Wawa plans to double its footprint and open more drive-thru

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A rendering of Wawa’s drive-thru-only location in Falls Township, Pennsylvania. / Image courtesy of Wawa

Wawa, a convenience store chain known for its freshly made hoagies, plans to double its number of units by the end of the decade, an expansion that will include more drive-thru locations, its CEO said.

The Philadelphia-based company operates more than 965 convenience stores in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Florida and Washington, DC. It has established itself as a competitor to restaurants due to its dining offerings, especially breakfast, and its development of drive-thrus and other restaurant-like features.

It is on track to open 54 new stores this year and by 2030 it hopes to expand to around 1,800 locations, CEO Chris Gheysens told the Philadelphia Business Journal.

He called the plan the “most aggressive growth” in the chain’s history, saying the expansion will include “traditional” neighborhood stores and “non-traditional” seating areas in existing and new markets.

Some of the new locations will also include delivery servicea format Wawa began adopting during the COVID-19 pandemic in response to consumer demand for more convenient ordering channels.

He currently has two drive-thrus, in Falls Township, Pennsylvania, and Westampton, NJ. The Pennsylvania location features a new prototype that consists of a drive-thru only; it’s basically a fast food restaurant.

In another flex of its quick-service muscles, the chain added a burger to its menu last year, as part of a broader shift to the dinner portion that also includes pasta. The premium burger was the top-selling drive-thru item, the company said at the time.

Drive-thrus have become increasingly popular among restaurant chains during the pandemic, with chains from McDonald’s to Raising Cane’s seeing strong window sales, while companies like Chipotle, Shake Shack and Sweetgreen have built their own versions of the take-out lane.

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