Wawa, a convenience store chain with deep roots in the Northeast, is hoping Tampa will play a major role in its expansion into the Sunshine State.
Its first Tampa location is nearing completion at 30th Street and Fowler Avenue, a high-traffic intersection near the University of South Florida, Wawa spokeswoman Lori Bruce said. The store is set to open on Feb. 13.
The company is planning five grand openings in the Tampa metro area in the next couple of months as Wawa extends its reach into West Central Florida.
The New Jersey-based company targeted the 30th Street site because of its location in the heart of a major north Tampa urban area, Bruce said. In addition to USF, the new store will be across Fowler Avenue from University Mall.
Wawa, a convenience store that sells fuel and fresh food, including built-to-order hoagies and hot breakfast sandwiches, celebrated its expansion into Florida by opening seven stores in the Orlando area last year.
Its goal is to open about 100 stores along the Interstate 4 corridor from Orlando to Tampa and Pinellas County in five years, Bruce said.
In addition to the 30th Street location in North Tampa, Wawa plans to celebrate store openings at 3101 Gandy Blvd. in Pinellas Park on Feb. 8; 8519 U.S. 19 in Port Richey, Feb. 20; 8330 Ridge Road in New Port Richey, Feb. 27; and 4028 U.S. 19 in New Port Richey, March 6.
Wawa plans its first store near downtown Tampa at the former Giordano's pizza site at 401 N. Dale Mabry, Bruce said. It is scheduled for a May opening.
Wawa and its rival, Louisville, Ky.- based Thornton's, plan to introduce a wave of new stores in the Tampa area within the next few years, a sign economic conditions are on the rise in the Tampa region.