Make us your home page

For us, Wawa is part of our lives

An Italian Hoagie was offered to visitors Thursday during a preopening party for local officials and the media at the Tampa Bay area’s first Wawa store, 3101 Gandy Blvd. in Pinellas Park.


An Italian Hoagie was offered to visitors Thursday during a preopening party for local officials and the media at the Tampa Bay area’s first Wawa store, 3101 Gandy Blvd. in Pinellas Park.

Disclosure: The author grew up near a Wawa, and has longed for Wawa hoagies since he moved. But he's not alone.

There are soldiers overseas who get Wawa coffee in care packages. There is a couple who got married in their Maryland Wawa. There is a New Jersey man who has a Wawa tattoo. There are five Pennsylvania women who spent nearly two years visiting every Wawa — 586 when their journey ended in 2009. That same trek would need 607 stops today.

What makes Wawa an "integral part of customers' lives" (Harvard Business Review) or earns it coverage like "Convenience Cult?" (New York Times)? Why am I, a college-educated, somewhat mature 28-year-old man, legitimately excited about a new convenience store? Why, when I took my Floridian fiancee home, was I almost as concerned about her reaction to her first Wawa hoagie as I was about her liking my family and friends?

It's a question I have pondered since I heard Wawa was invading Florida. Wawa is just a convenience store with a sandwich shop. I'll admit this. The sandwiches are good, not great. No self-respecting Philadelphian would take a visitor to Wawa for the city's definitive cheesesteak.

I called Jon Myerow, the founder of Tria, a chain of Philadelphia wine bars. Myerow, 49, has a discerning palate. His bars serve things like "speck alto adige and taleggio" (really nice ham and cheese). Myerow goes to Wawa at least three times a week. He likes the hoagies.

"It isn't the best, but it's very good. And it's comforting, that it's there," he said. "When you live near a Wawa, it's part of your life."

He's right. Wawa is where I went Sundays as a child, after church but before the Eagles game, to get a bag of hoagies for the family. Wawa is where I dropped my dad in the mornings, so he could get a cup of coffee before walking to the train station. It is where I went for a quick meal on the way to work or after a night on the town.

There are many people who live near Philadelphia who have never seen the Liberty Bell. There are far fewer who have never eaten at Wawa.

So, Florida friends, if you bite into a Wawa hoagie in the presence of someone who grew up with the place and you decide it's not much better than a Publix sub (as much as it pains me to admit this, it really isn't), take it easy on us. Because when we're raving about Wawa, we're not really talking about a convenience store, sandwiches or coffee. We're talking about home.

Will Hobson can be reached at or (813) 226-3400.

For us, Wawa is part of our lives 02/07/13 [Last modified: Friday, February 8, 2013 8:39am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Pinellas licensing board loses support for staying independent

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER –– The Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board on Monday lost its strongest supporter for staying independent.

    State Sen. Jack Latvala, a Clearwater Republican running for governor, said Monday that he will no longer support any legislation to keep the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board independent. This photo was taken in August. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  2. Triad Retail Media names Sherry Smith as CEO


    ST. PETERSBURG — Triad Retail Media, a St. Petersburg-based digital ads company, said CEO Roger Berdusco is "leaving the company to pursue new opportunities" and a member of the executive team, Sherry Smith, is taking over.

    Sherry Smith is taking over as CEO at Triad Retail Media, the company announced Monday. | [Courtesy of Triad Retail Media]
  3. Two new condo projects for same street in downtown St. Pete

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — It lacks the panache and name recognition of Beach Drive, but 4th Avenue N in downtown St. Petersburg is becoming a condo row in its own right.

    Bezu, a condo project planned at 100 4th Ave. N in downtown St. Petersburg, will have 24 units including a three-level penthouse with infinity pool.
[Courtesy of Clear ph Design]
  4. AAA expects gas prices in Tampa Bay will continue to fall


    Ticking slowly and steadily, regular gas prices have receded for the last 10 consecutive days. The average unleaded gas price in Florida is $2.67 this morning, a nickel cheaper than a week ago. In Tampa Bay, the current average unleaded gas has dropped 7 cents from a week ago to $2.62. The national average for regular …

    Gas prices for regular gas continue to decline. In Tampa Bay, the current average unleaded gas is down 7 cents from a week ago at $2.62 a gallon. [Times file photo]
  5. Kiran and Pallavi Patel commit $200 million for Clearwater medical school

    Real Estate

    CLEARWATER — Tampa Bay philanthropists Dr. Kiran Patel and his wife, Dr. Pallavi Patel are spending $200 million to create and promote a Tampa Bay regional campus for the private Nova Southeastern University.

    Drs. Kiran and Pallavi Patel, prolific Tampa Bay philanthropists, are putting up $200 million to create and run a new medical school under Nova Southeastern University. Here is a rendering of the proposed campus [Courtesy of Nova Southestern University}