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Wawa Shutters Philadelphia Flagship Store

Cites pandemic for permanent closure of location opened ahead of Pope Francis’ visit in 2015
Photograph: Shutterstock

PHILADELPHIA — Wawa Inc. has closed the iconic Wawa convenience store at Broad and Walnut streets in Philadelphia because of the COVID-19 pandemic and other “uncertainties.”

"Over the last few months, we have worked to navigate the challenges of COVID-19 and serve our communities through our role as an essential provider,” Wawa said in a statement provided to CSP Daily News. “Now, due to the unique circumstances that continue to impact our customers’ daily lives and our own store operations, we are saddened to say that we will not be reopening our Broad and Walnut store. This decision was a difficult one. But due to the impact from the pandemic coupled with some operational uncertainties of today, our long-term plans for this store are no longer viable.”

Other locations in the city are still operating, the company said.

“We will continue to serve the Center City communities from several stores,” it said. It operates two locations within a few blocks of the Broad St. store. “Our commitment to our friends and neighbors here remains strong, and we will continue to do our part to serve and support our communities. Philadelphia is our home town and that’s something that will never change.”

Wawa opened the Center City location, its Philadelphia flagship at the time, on Sept. 18, 2015, a few days before Pope Francis’ first U.S. visit, for the World Meeting of Families. In June 2015, Wawa CEO Chris Gheysens served on a 35-person delegation to Rome headed up by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.

The retailer originally planned to open the more than 5,000-square-foot c-store—the chain’s first with indoor seating—in early November but accelerated the construction and opening schedule to be able to take advantage of the crowds. Highlights of the new store included a large corner entrance with bronze canopy; indoor bar seating along the windows; upscale cabinetry, counter tops and lighting; floor-to-ceiling glass; and special digital signs to showcase Wawa’s foodservice and commitment to the community.

“As we continue to respond to the new realities of the current situation, we are also accelerating development of new on-the-go experiences and innovative store formats to serve our communities in new and better ways,” Wawa said in its statement. “We are expanding delivery, curbside ordering and pickup, testing drive-thrus and will be introducing other new digital conveniences.

Wawa’s c-stores are located in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Florida and Washington, D.C. The Wawa, Pa.-based company reached the milestone of its 900th store in June. The chain is No. 10 on CSP’s 2020 Top 202 ranking of c-store chains by number of retail outlets.

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