Friday, May 25, 2018
Business

Plant City couple's Wawa love leads them to attend every grand opening

TAMPA — John Kelley remembers when Wawa was a dairy farm near his home in Delaware County, Pa.

"We used to go there on elementary school field trips to see how they milk the cows and operate the farm," he said.

Wawa started making the conversion from dairy farm to convenience store in 1964, becoming not just a place to buy coffee, but also a slice of culture for Kelley, his wife, Norma, and thousands of others in the Mid-Atlantic region.

The Kelleys, both 74, found themselves a little homesick for Wawa after retiring to Florida years later, so they understandably grew excited when Wawa began opening stores in Florida. The Kelleys made a special trek from their Plant City home to Orlando when the state's first Wawa opened in July 2012.

Now, they try to attend the grand opening of every Wawa in the Tampa Bay area

"We've collected several Wawa T-shirts just by stopping in at the new stores during their grand openings," John said with a laugh.

John and Norma love the store's hoagies, especially the Amoroso rolls made from dough shipped from Pennsylvania. Herr's potato chips of Pennsylvania also sit on the Kelleys' favorites list.

Wawa plans to open 25 stores on a yearly basis in the Sunshine State, including several locations in Hillsborough County. It just opened a store at 1760 W Hillsborough Ave., and in the spring, another location will go up at E Fletcher Avenue near Livingston Avenue.

"Florida has been begging for Wawa," John said.

He may have a point. Native Pennsylvanians alone account for 4 percent of Florida's population — that figure represents nearly 800,000 people, not even counting current Florida residents originally from other states in Wawa's Mid-Atlantic home region.

At the debut of the Wawa store on W Hillsborough Avenue last month, grand opening events included a hoagie-building contest between members of the Tampa Police Department and the Tampa Fire Department.

Free coffee also is a common giveaway during the first few days after a new store opens, and customers can always use air pumps for free. All ATM transactions also are free.

It's those little freebies that matter to people like the Kelleys. While the Kelleys (and many others) sing praises about Wawa, John said he has come across a few people who don't embrace Wawa the way he and other enthusiasts do.

"I tell people to try Wawa and see if they like it," Norma said. "Most of them go back again."

Wawa spokesperson Lori Bruce said some even show their Wawa love in more permanent ways.

"I know many people who have gotten Wawa tattoos and have even had their weddings in Wawa stores."

The Kelleys may not have said their vows by the hoagie counter or donned Wawa-themed tattoos, but they love the Pennsylvania company nonetheless.

"I'm just glad they're here in Florida," John said.

Contact Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez at [email protected]

Comments
Five members of 69ers motorcycle gang indicted on federal charges

Five members of 69ers motorcycle gang indicted on federal charges

Last year three members of the 69ers Motorcycle Club gang were implicated in the execution of a rival gang leader in the middle of rush hour traffic in Pasco County.Now those three and two other 69ers members have been indicted on federal charges tha...
Updated: 11 hours ago
With makeover, ZooTampa at Lowry Park takes a page from the theme parks

With makeover, ZooTampa at Lowry Park takes a page from the theme parks

TAMPA — Behind the construction walls near the carousel at ZooTampa at Lowry Park, hammers, saws and power drills made a racket in the blazing Friday heat. A raft full of 100-pound water jugs took test trips on the new Roaring Springs ride set ...
Updated: 12 hours ago
U.S. news outlets block European readers over new privacy rules

U.S. news outlets block European readers over new privacy rules

LONDON ó U.S. news outlets including The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, The Orlando Sentinel and The Arizona Daily Star abruptly blocked access to their websites from Europe on Friday, choosing to black out readers rather than comply with a ...
Published: 05/25/18
Tampa Electric appeals OSHA findings for October accident

Tampa Electric appeals OSHA findings for October accident

TAMPA ó Tampa Electric Co. is appealing a recent citation by federal regulators. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration hit the utility with a $76,050 fine and a "serious" violation in April following its investigation into an accident in ...
Published: 05/25/18
Fiat Chrysler recalls 4.8 million cars, warning owners: Donít use the cruise control

Fiat Chrysler recalls 4.8 million cars, warning owners: Donít use the cruise control

Associated PressDETROIT ó Fiat Chrysler is recalling 4.8 million vehicles in the U.S. because in rare but terrifying circumstances, drivers may not be able to turn off the cruise control. The company is warning owners not to use cruise control until...
Published: 05/25/18
Federal Reserve chairman warns his agency must be free from political pressure

Federal Reserve chairman warns his agency must be free from political pressure

Associated PressFederal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell warned Friday that the Fedís independence from political pressure must be respected if it is to succeed in controlling inflation, maximizing employment and regulating the financial system. His re...
Published: 05/25/18
Restaurants like Ford’s Garage use the experience to get you in the door

Restaurants like Ford’s Garage use the experience to get you in the door

Tim Butler’s first car was a Ford Model A pick-up truck — a pearl fawn and cherry red pick-up he got his senior year in high school from his dad, who renovates antique cars. That’s why as Butler waited for a table at the Ford’...
Published: 05/25/18
St. Petersburg man fined $507,513 in penny stock scheme

St. Petersburg man fined $507,513 in penny stock scheme

TAMPA ó A St. Petersburg man was fined $507,513 and permanently barred from participating in the offering of a penny stock in a case involving a scheme to manipulate the price of Aureus, a penny stock company incorporated in Nevada, officials said Fr...
Published: 05/25/18
Broadcomís CEO tops highest-paid list with a $103 million payout

Broadcomís CEO tops highest-paid list with a $103 million payout

Times staff and wiresNEW YORK ó Chief executives at the biggest public companies got an 8.5 percent raise last year, bringing the median pay package for CEOs to $11.7 million. Across the S&P 500, compensation for CEOs is often hundreds of times highe...
Published: 05/25/18
Denis Phillips, hurricane season guru, talks his signature beer, suspenders and Rule #7

Denis Phillips, hurricane season guru, talks his signature beer, suspenders and Rule #7

SAFETY HARBOR ó Denis Phillips cracks a pop-top and pulls a can that looks a lot like him to his lips."Itís got that citrusy feel to it," he says. "Which is a Florida thing. Thatís not bad." Indeed, thereís a grapefruit finish to Rule #7 Hurricane Sa...
Published: 05/25/18