It wasn’t so long ago that it felt like Wawa was abandoning downtown Philadelphia in favor of suburban gas station locations, as several longtime locations were closing down and no new stores were opening. C’mon, let’s walk together down memory lane and pour one out for the Wawa at 20th & Locust. And 11th & Arch. Remember 2nd & Christian? How ’bout 17th & Walnut? Fine places, all of them, forever lost but never forgotten. We may be mistaken, but just a few years ago, the only Center City Wawas left were 17th & Arch, buoyed by the adjacent Comcast Center, and 9th & Walnut, supported by Jefferson. But times have changed in a big way.
Over the last couple years, we’ve seen a total strategic reversal from Wawa, and Philadelphia has experienced a previously unprecedented string of Wawa openings. To name a few without thinking too hard, we’ve seen new Wawa locations at Broad & Walnut, 13th & Chestnut, 22nd & South, 12th & Market, and 19th & Market. Just a couple weeks ago, another new Wawa opened its doors for the first time, at 6th & Chestnut, in the Public Ledger Building, across the street from Independence Hall. You may recall, we told you that this would happen about a year ago, and showed you a photo of the then vacant space.
Needless to say, things are looking a little different these days.
The newest Philadelphia Wawa is considered a flagship Wawa location, and with good reason. Most obviously, it’s the biggest Wawa there is, occupying roughly 11,500 sqft of space. Not only is the place huge, but it’s also appointed differently than any other Wawa we’ve ever visited, with incredibly high ceilings, Philadelphia-centric murals and signage, and some green touches as well. The product mix is extended, as you might expect, with additional sandwich and coffee offerings, for example. They offer espresso drinks and a variety of “on tap” beverages as well, including Kombucha and Swizzle, a carbonated beverage that contains ginger, apple cider vinegar, and maple syrup. Tbd whether those stick around for the long haul. The place also has seating for fifty or so patrons, giving tourists a place to rest their weary feet while noshing on an Italian hoagie.
Perhaps our only complaint about the place is that Wawa’s designers decided to cover up the old columns with brick veneers, making the space look much more industrial than before. While this certainly fits the aesthetic of the rest of the space, it feels like a shame that the old columns won’t see the light of day anytime soon. On the plus side, the columns are probably intact behind the bricks, so maybe they’ll make a comeback when Wawa renovates the space, sometime in the 2030s.