Wawa re-opens with beer for sale

Wawa President and CEO Chris Gheysens addresses the crowd during the Feb. 16 grand re-opening of the store at Route 202 and Naaman’s Creek Road.

The Wawa store on Route 202 at Naaman’s Creek Road has re-opened after renovations, and it re-opened with a full "beer cave."

The store was closed for the past months for remodeling, which included re-designed food and checkout counters, updated restrooms and the installation of the large beer cooler and seating area.

It’s the first Wawa in Pennsylvania to sell beer and wine. And it might remain the only one, at least for a while, according to Wawa President and CEO Chris Gheysens.

“We’re not pursuing any more licenses right now,” Gheysens said. “This is a test for Pennsylvania.”

The Route 202 store in Concord is Wawa’s largest store and the only one that had ample room — without adding on to the footprint — for the required seating area and “beer cave” as Gheysens referred to the walk-in cooler.

Concord Township Commissioner Gail Ryan checks out the variety in Wawa’s new "beer cave."

The whole beer area is 400 square feet and can seat 30 people. A customer can come into the store, buy a hoagie and a beer, have a seat and enjoy the meal. But Gheysens added the seating area is not just for beer consumption. It’s a place where customers can sit down with a cup of coffee, too.

There are several restrictions, however. On-site consumption of beer is limited to one beer per customer, and beer and wine must be paid for at a register dedicated to handling those sales. Also, customers are limited to buying no more than two six-packs, or 196 ounces, at a time.

Gheysens also said 50 of the store’s associates went through the state’s Responsible Alcohol Management Program, known as RAMP.

The CEO also offered some suggestions on food and beer pairings. He said 2SP’s Delco Lager goes well with Wawa’s soft pretzels, while Victory Brewing’s Hop Devil IPA pairs perfectly with Wawa’s classic Italian hoagie.

Several brewers were on hand out in the cold offering samples of their brews, and the store gave free samples of pretzels, hoagies and even some mac and cheese with bacon.

Several political dignitaries were and hand for the grand re-opening. Colleen Morrone, vice president of Delaware County Council, referred to the store as “our store,” adding that it was gratifying to have the company headquartered in the county.

State Sen. Tom Kilion and state Rep. Stephen Barrar were also on hand.

While Gheysens thanked the politicians for their help, Killion thanked Wawa for “helping drag Pennsylvania into the 21st century when it comes to alcohol sales. Representative Barrar and I have been big supporters of privatization of liquor her in Pennsylvania.

“We both voted for full privatization. The governor vetoed that, but we did get half a loaf. I do think it’s crazy that you have to go to a separate register, have a wall and 30 seats in order to serve alcohol,” Killion said. “To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, LCB, let’s tear down this wall.”

Barrar said he was proud to have Wawa as a community business.

“They are so important to us and it’s nice to have bragging rights about Wawa,” Barrar said. “I always say about Wawa is that if they can identify a way to make something more convenient to a consumer, they’re right on top of it. It’s great to have them here.”

A ribbon cutting to officially re-open the store followed the comments.

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About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

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