Make us your home page

Wawa countdown: a matter of months

Cultlike followers from the land of Wawa are close to getting their fix.

The popular Philadelphia gas and convenience store chain named for a wild goose has a half-dozen stores under construction around Orlando slated for a July 18 opening and a half-dozen more locations lined up in the bay area to open by this time next year.

Locally, construction starts this spring at locations on Gandy Boulevard in Pinellas Park; the site of a former Giordano's restaurant in South Tampa; at Starkey and Ulmerton roads in Largo; and at Bloomingdale Avenue and U.S. 301 in Hillsborough County.

Wawa is assembling the sites to double that quickly.

For the uninitiated, Wawa combines its mega-filling stations with C-stores four times the size of a 7-Eleven. Staffed by 30 people, each Wawa features made-on-site deli hoagies, gourmet coffees, fresh-baked goods and groceries 24/7.

While many 14- to 20-pump filling stations treat food-to-go as an afterthought, Wawa, which is leapfrogging into Florida after covering the mid-Atlantic with 600 locations, gives takeout and dashboard dining top priority.

"We're a food retailer first," spokeswoman Lori Bruce said.

Avon Calling. Grossman staying. After news spread last week that Mindy Grossman was being recruited for the top job at struggling Avon Products, the chief executive who steered HSN back to health wrote a note assuring her 250 top executives that she is not leaving the TV shopping network.

Repair and prayer. Another chain of auto repair shops that promises white-glove customer service is setting up shop around Tampa Bay. Christian Brothers, which sports waiting rooms equipped with hardwood floors, free Wi-Fi and leather easy chairs, opens the first of four area stores this week in Land O'Lakes. Belleair Development is building a second one in Westchase that opens in three months. Others are planned this year for Riverview and Wesley Chapel.

Mechanics in the nine-bay repair centers can handle anything from an oil change to engine replacement.

Founded 30 years ago in Houston, the 97-store chain took its name from born-again founder Mark Carr's decision to create a faith-based business that injects Christian values in the world of lug nuts and grease monkeys.

Beyond a Bible tucked among the magazines in the waiting room and not being open Sundays, Christian Brothers is an equal opportunity employer that does not proselytize on the premises, says vice president of development Josh Wall.

However, one of nine criteria for prospective franchise owners is a stated preference for evangelical Christians.

Broader sighting. The executive who transformed Kash n' Karry Food Stores in Tampa into Sweetbay Supermarket, Shelley Broader, continues to rise. She was recently named president of Walmart Canada. Facing a new challenge there from Target's purchase of 189 Zellers stores, the world's largest retailer is handing her $750 million to pour into upgrading and expanding its 375-store network north of the border.

Tempered outlook. K.C. Conway, executive vice president of research for Colliers International in Atlanta, cautioned local retail developers not to get wide-eyed about the speed of the industry's recovery.

"I suggest you get all your deals done before the political conventions this summer," he said in a talk to the International Council of Shopping Centers. "Retailers may be talking about more retail space, but lenders aren't. Too many banks remain undercapitalized."

Mark Albright can be reached at or (727) 893-8252.

Wawa countdown: a matter of months 02/20/12 [Last modified: Monday, February 20, 2012 8:06pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Federal agencies demand records from SeaWorld theme park


    ORLANDO — Two federal agencies are reportedly demanding financial records from SeaWorld.

    Killer whales Ikaika and Corky participate in behaviors commonly done in the wild during SeaWorld's Killer Whale educational presentation in this photo from Jan. 9. SeaWorld has been subpoenaed by two federal agencies for comments that executives and the company made in August 2014 about the impact from the "Blackfish" documentary. 
[Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS]
  2. Legalized medical marijuana signed into law by Rick Scott

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a broader medical marijuana system for the state, following through on a promise he made earlier this month.

    Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation on Friday that legalizes medical marijuana in Florida.
  3. Line of moms welcome Once Upon A Child to Carrollwood


    CARROLLWOOD — Strollers of all shapes and sizes are lined up in front of the store, and inside, there are racks of children's clothing in every color of the rainbow.

    At Once Upon A Child, you often as many baby strollers outside as you find baby furniture and accessories. It recently opened this location in Carrollwood. Photo by Danielle Hauser
  4. Pastries N Chaat brings North India cuisine to North Tampa


    TAMPA — Pastries N Chaat, a new restaurant offering Indian street food, opened this week near the University of South Florida.

    The menu at Pastries N Chaat includes a large variety of Biriyani, an entree owners say is beloved by millions. Photo courtesy of Pastries N Chaat.
  5. 'Garbage juice' seen as threat to drinking water in Florida Panhandle county


    To Waste Management, the nation's largest handler of garbage, the liquid that winds up at the bottom of a landfill is called "leachate," and it can safely be disposed of in a well that's 4,200 feet deep.

    Three samples that were displayed by Jackson County NAACP President Ronstance Pittman at a public meeting on Waste Management's deep well injection proposal. The sample on the left is full of leachate from the Jackson County landfill, the stuff that would be injected into the well. The sample on the right shows leachate after it's been treated at a wastewater treatment plant. The one in the middle is tap water.