Wawa has earned a reputation for whipping crowds into a frenzy of enthusiasm when the chain opens the first location in an area. Company and store managers did not disappoint the scores of residents and city officials who turned out Wednesday for the debut of the first Wawa in West Pasco.
A pep-rally spirit infused the opening of the Port Richey convenience store and gas station, which anchors the southwest corner of U.S. 19 and Ridge Road.
The store is the first of three locations here that the Pennsylvania-based chain will operate.
City firefighters and police officers squared off in the Hoagies for Heroes sandwich building contest. Fire Chief Tim Fussell and his team prevailed 32-25 over Police Chief Dave Brown and his troops. Wawa also donated $1,000 apiece to two charities selected by the city departments.
Port Richey City Manager Tom O’Neill and city council members thanked the company for their investment in the community. Wawa has spent about $900,000 to build the store, O’Neill wrote in a recent email to council members and city officials.
Sheriff Chris Nocco said he is pleased with the cooperation from company officials toward law enforcement programs.
Chris Gheysens, Wawa president and CEO, helped explain the origins of the company with roots dating back to the early 1800s. Wally Goose, the 6-foot tall Canadian goose mascot, symbolized the origin of the name of the firm.
Store manager Kate Smith introduced her assistants, who waved pompons in the best cheerleader tradition. She said the Port Richey store will employ 40 associates, each of who owns a piece of the company. Wawa owns and operates all of its 570 locations. The firm plans to open some 100 Florida locations within the next five years.
A New Port Richey-area Wawa will open Feb. 27 at the intersection of Little and Ridge roads. A Holiday-area store, at U.S. 19 and State Road 54, will open its doors March 6.