Here’s All the Fancy New Stuff in Wawa’s Biggest Store
A bakery serving fresh French loaves and decadent desserts. Kombucha, teas, and nitro cold brew on tap. Two gorgeous Mural Arts centerpieces. What’s not to love?
There’s a lot going on in Wawa’s new flagship store.
The location, which opens on Friday at 6th and Chestnut streets with a free coffee weekend, is unlike any other Wawa ever. That’s not just because of its size (which, at 11,500 square feet, makes it the biggest Wawa in the world). There are three other reasons this store is special.
The first is that it’s a beautifully designed space within a stunning historical building. When you walk inside, it almost feels like you stumbled into some sort of secret Wawa Heaven. It features tall, vaulted ceilings, touches of Art Deco design, and hip industrial furnishings. Think of La Colombe’s Fishtown flagship store, but less pretentious.
The second factor differentiating this location from others is that it’s pretty much a giant love letter to Philadelphia. When you enter the new Wawa, you’ll notice — across the store’s long, bustling center — one of its two stunning “Philly First” murals, designed by artists Keir Johnston and Willis Humphrey of Mural Arts Philadelphia. Humphrey, who died just two weeks ago, was praised and remembered by Mural Arts executive director Jane Golden at a preview event on Wednesday.
Both compositions show off, as the name implies, historical events or inventions that were born in the city. And there’s a lot to be proud of – like the first computer and the first hospital dedicated to helping children.
Wawa CEO Chris Gheysens said he wanted the company’s commitment to Philly, its “hometown,” front and center in its flagship store.
“Philly proud,” Gheysens said. “That was the vision. “We wanted the design not just to show off Wawa, but really to show off what is great about Philadelphia. We wanted to make sure Philadelphians know that when they come into this space every day for their normal routine, they’ll see what’s great about the city.”
Gheysens said the “Philly Firsts” murals are his favorite parts of the new store.
“Without them, I don’t think we would’ve met the original vision of showcasing all of the great iconic things about Philadelphia,” he said. “That’s the centerpiece.”
Something else to look forward to about the new Wawa? All the fancy new stuff. Here’s what you’ll see:
- There’s a bakery that will churn out fresh French loaves, baguettes, croissants (including the multi-grain variety), and a number of decadent desserts that are unique to the store, including chocolate and vanilla cupcakes, chocolate “thunder” cake, chocolate chunk cookies, spinach feta bistros, raspberry “sammies,” and orange poppy cheese pullmans.
- While existing Wawa stores usually offer only one type of Wawa’s small batch Reserve coffee line, this store will have eight, all rotating and specially curated by the company’s “coffee guru,” Michael McLaughlin.
- Speaking of coffee, for a limited time you’ll be able to order a “Molten Lava Liberty Latte,” Wawa’s signature latte, but steamed with hot chocolate instead of milk.
- When you do choose a beverage, you’ll notice that the store’s coffee cups are special: They’re designed with images from the “Philly Firsts” mural.
- Near the brews, you’ll find an impressive selection of beverages on tap, including nitro cold brew, teas, kombucha, and a drink called “The Swizzler,” which McLaughlin called “Gatorade for Vermont farmers.” It includes apple cider vinegar, ginger, and maple syrup, and it’s really, really good.
- Wawa has two apparel stands in its new store, where you can buy Wawa T-shirts, water bottles, coffee mugs, and more.
- Last but not least, there’s live greenery — plants line the wall behind the checkout line. “That doesn’t happen in Wawa everyday,” Gheysens said.
Excited? Yeah, we told you it was something.
The new store will officially open at 8 a.m. on Friday. Wawa will host a celebration that includes a parade (with mascots), hoagie-building competitions, charitable donations, giveaways, sampling, and more, starting at 8:45 a.m. And of course, the store will give away free coffee all weekend. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
So it’s official, then: Wawa really is taking over (has taken over?) the city. This is the fifth store the company opened this year. It’s the best — so far. It definitely won’t be the last.
Check out photos from the preview event below.