Monday, June 25, 2018
Business

Pasco residents gaga over Port Richey Wawa

PORT RICHEY

The veggies, cold cuts and condiments were flying.

Port Richey police lined up against city firefighters to find out who could make the most Wawa built-to-order hoagies in the time it takes to play a song. And both sides were cranking them out as part of Wawa's grand opening celebration Wednesday for its new store at 8519 U.S. 19, at Ridge Road.

Prior to the competition, Port Richey police Chief Dave Brown engaged in some friendly trash talking.

"The Fire Department is going down!" he cheered into a microphone.

But it didn't end that way. Chief Tim Fussell's firefighters won the sandwich showdown, making 32 hoagies to the Police Department's 25. Dozens of onlookers applauded and cheered as Fussell received the Wawa trophy. Both sides came out winners, however, as Wawa donated $1,000 each to the Port Richey Volunteer Firefighter Association and the Gold Shield Foundation.

Wawa officials paid tribute to the city's law enforcement and firefighters at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new store, which is the third in recent weeks to open in the Tampa Bay area, and first in Pasco. Two more Wawa stores will open in Pasco in the next two weeks at Little and Ridge roads, and U.S.19 and State Road 54.

It's part of a push by Wawa to open 10 stores this year in the Tampa Bay area, plus 15 in Orlando. The chain projects it will have 100 stores open in those two markets in the next five years. Each store employs about 35 people.

The heavily traveled intersection at U.S. 19 and Ridge Road and the name recognition the Wawa brand has with northerners transplanted to the area made for a perfect location in Port Richey, CEO and president Chris Gheysens told the Times.

"We're really excited to be here. The city has welcomed us with open arms," he said.

Wawa has been a staple in Pennsylvania and New Jersey for decades since the first store opened in 1964. The chain also has stores in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, offering gas, convenience shopping and its signature menu with built-to-order hoagies, soups and fresh fruit, Gheysens said.

Gheysens shared his excitement with about 100 people attending the grand opening. And inside the new 6,000-square-foot store, patrons swarmed to order hoagies from a touchscreen system that allows customers to build their hoagies to their liking.

"We want to make life easy on our customers," Gheysens said. "We know people have busy lives. So you can come in, type your order into the system, do your shopping, and come back when you're done and get your hoagie."

And anyone who purchased a hoagie Wednesday did their part in combatting hunger. As part of its "Lending a Helping Hoagie" campaign, Wawa donated a percentage of sales from each hoagie to Feeding America Tampa Bay.

The grand opening attracted Port Richey officials, local business leaders and Sheriff Chris Nocco.

"It's a real shot in the arm for Port Richey," said City Council member Terry Rowe. "We've had some lean years recently, so this is a great economic investment in our city."

The convenience store replaces an underperforming Denny's restaurant that was razed last year. In the late '80s, that Denny's was known as "Little City Hall," because council members at the time would gather there to discuss city business over coffee, in violation of the state's open government laws.

That relic of the past has been replaced with a business that officials hope will help with revitalization efforts along U.S. 19.

"It's the perfect location for them. I think they will be very successful in the city," said Port Richey City Manager Tom O'Neill.

Comments
Bayfront Health to acquire Seven Rivers Medical Center in Crystal River

Bayfront Health to acquire Seven Rivers Medical Center in Crystal River

Bayfront Health is acquiring the Seven Rivers Regional Medical Center in Crystal River. Community Health Systems, which owns six Bayfront Health hospitals along Floridaís Gulf Coast from Brooksville to Venice, is one of the nationís largest owners an...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Burgeoning trade war takes a toll from Tampa to Turkey

Burgeoning trade war takes a toll from Tampa to Turkey

Associated Press WASHINGTON ó A Tampa boat builder absorbs $4 million in lost business and expects more pain. An Ohio pork producer is losing access to a vital export market and fears the damage will last years. A motorcycle shop near Cologne, German...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Harley-Davidson moving some production from U.S. because of EU tariffs

Harley-Davidson moving some production from U.S. because of EU tariffs

Harley-Davidson, the U.S. motorcycle manufacturer, said Monday that it was shifting some of the production of its bikes outside the United States to avoid European Union tariffs imposed as part of a widening trade dispute.The announcement, made in a ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Falling gas prices in Tampa Bay might level out soon

Falling gas prices in Tampa Bay might level out soon

Gas prices in Florida have been declining for the past 30 days straight, but analysts say that trend might not last due to higher oil prices.Tampa Bay gas prices fell another seven cents a gallon over the past week to an average of $2.58 a gallon fo...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Visit St. Pete-Clearwater partners with HSN to turn shoppers into tourists

Visit St. Pete-Clearwater partners with HSN to turn shoppers into tourists

Valerie Stupís toes are in the sand at Clearwater Beach. Guy Yovan is spotting dolphins near Johnís Pass. Sarah Anderson is touring the Dali Museum.Usually HSNís shoppers only see their favorite network hosts inside the studio selling handbags, cookw...
Published: 06/25/18
Norwegian Airlines offers direct flights from Tampa to London-Gatwick

Norwegian Airlines offers direct flights from Tampa to London-Gatwick

TAMPA ó Norwegian Airlines announced Monday it will start direct flights twice a week between Tampa International Airport and Londonís Gatwick Airport effective Oct. 31, giving TIA another highly prized international flight and a new choice for budge...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Office building demolition at Midtown Tampa site proves tougher than expected

Office building demolition at Midtown Tampa site proves tougher than expected

TAMPA ó Stripped to the girders, the old Bromley office building looked about as substantial as fish bones on a dinner plate.But the 5-story structure proved Sunday it still had a surprising amount of fight left in it.A demolition team had planned to...
Updated: 8 hours ago
President Trumpís trade war threatens the US newspaper industry

President Trumpís trade war threatens the US newspaper industry

STERLING, Ill. - As a longtime editor of small-town newspapers, Jeff Rogers has seen his industry face the collapse of print advertising, the rise of the internet and more. Today, his 18 employees work in a newsroom here that puts out two daily newsp...
Published: 06/24/18
Making the case for more drones

Making the case for more drones

BLACKSBURG, Va. - They considered how well everyone slept the night before. They considered the chances a military jet might scream by on a training mission. They considered the farmer in the field.Then they considered some more.After making it throu...
Published: 06/24/18
Coal and gas hold onto their share of electricity production, despite massive push for renewables

Coal and gas hold onto their share of electricity production, despite massive push for renewables

Hereís an intriguing set of facts: Coal produces the same percentage of the worldís electricity as 20 years ago. Oil and gas remain about level, too.Same for nonfossil fuel sources. In other words, the massive push towards renewables over the past co...
Updated: 5 hours ago