Inside the District’s first Wawa: Convenience store with a cult following

Media Credit: Kiana Lee | Hatchet Photographer

Compared to the more than 750 locations across six states, the 9,200 square foot store is the largest yet, featuring specialty items exclusive to D.C.

As a southerner, the way others worship Wawa convenience stores has always confused me. But after stepping through the doors of the District’s first location, I realized it was a cult I wanted to join.

Wawa is set to open just a few blocks from campus Thursday morning at 1111 19th St. NW. Compared to the more than 750 locations across six states, the 9,200 square foot store is the largest yet, featuring specialty items exclusive to D.C. Fanatic shoppers from places like Pennsylvania and New Jersey will notice the shop has a new look with exposed brick, subway tiles and wood accents, but still houses their famous hoagies and coffee.

The ribbon will be cut at the shop’s opening Thursday at 9 a.m. and the first 100 customers to rush through the door will receive gifts. Later in the day, police officers and firefighters will battle it out in a hoagie building contest for a charity of the winner’s choice. And just in time for finals week, the store will offer free coffee to all customers during the first three days of opening.

Loyal customers will notice that the new city location was created specifically to accommodate large crowds with outdoor patio seating, eight registers and extra employees at the beverage bar and deli.

Wawa’s cult customers love their freshly brewed coffee from the shop, but for the District’s location a specialty beverage bar was added to the locale. The bar will offer the first Wawa cold Nitro Brew. At the bar, patrons use touch screens to order drinks to their exact specifications. The beverage bar sits next to Wawa’s typical self serve coffee brews, which offer seven coffee and six cappuccino flavors alongside a fix ins bar.

Kiana Lee | Hatchet Photographer

Fanatic shoppers from places like Pennsylvania and New Jersey will notice the shop has a new look with exposed brick, subway tiles and wood accents, but still houses their famous hoagies and coffee.

Wawa is known for their inexpensive gas prices, but for this city store the chain nixed the gas pumps and installed air pumps for cyclists to stop and pump up their tires for free.

If someone is unfamiliar with the culture of Wawa, the obsession is typically too foreign to understand. But after one visit to the D.C. location, the hype is easy to comprehend. As a one-stop shop, District commuters can go to Wawa for a snack, a full meal or just a nice dessert.

The chain started as a deli and convenience store and still highlights those two facilities as their main attractions. For six weeks in the summer, Wawa holds its annual “Hoagie Fest” – where they sell every sandwich for $4.99. Though the store prides itself on its hoagies, the sandwiches are satisfying but basic, and feel more like a delicacy if you grew up with them.

As a nationwide chain, Wawa differentiates itself with food delivered overnight and in-house cooks. But Wawa offers more than just subs.

Their bakery features donuts and croissants to pair with their coffee. All of the croissants are baked fresh in the store, while the donuts are baked fresh and flown to stores across the country overnight.

Besides meals made by employees, Wawa sells typical snacks found at convenience stores such as brand name candies and chips. Students can also use Wawa as a grocery store because they sell eggs by the dozen, fruit and yogurt that can be kept in a residence hall refrigerator.

Whether or not Wawa was a fixture in your hometown, the location of the D.C. store is ideal for a student or commuter who just wants a strong cup of coffee or a hearty basic sandwich. It manages to be a 24-hour shop without the seedy atmosphere you find at most similar spots and will likely have students flocking to the convenient spot upon opening.

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