Wawa's Florida Plans Go Beyond Orlando and Tampa

TAMPA, Fla. -- Wawa Inc. cut the ribbon on its newest Tampa-area location today. The new convenience store at 401 N. Dale Mabry Highway marks the retailer’s first in downtown Tampa.

This latest grand opening is just another step in the Wawa, Pa.-based chain's plans to establish a firm presence in the Sunshine State. It opened its first Florida location in Orlando in July and branched out to the Tampa Bay market in February. Other cities in the state may someday see the familiar red and yellow Wawa banner as well.

"When we think of Florida, we think of the state," Wawa President and CEO Chris Gheysens told CSNews Online. "We have our eyes already set well beyond Orlando and Tampa."

Growth in Florida can be at a faster pace than in the other five states where Wawa has a presence because the zoning and permitting process is quicker, he explained. But that is not to say that Wawa stores will be popping up throughout the state overnight.

"We think it’s years in the making, the growth we can have there," Gheysens said. "We want to create what we have in the Northeast down in Florida."

Wawa will open 15 stores in the Orlando market and 10 in the Tampa Bay region by the end of this year, as CSNews Online previously reported. Between the two markets, the company projects it will have 100 stores in the state of Florida within the next five years.

Wawa's latest addition at the intersection of Dale Mabry Highway and Gray Street is the chain’s sixth store in the greater Tampa area and its 17th in Florida. Wawa currently owns and operates more than 600 convenience stores, including 300 gas stores, in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Florida.