ORLANDO – The new Wawa convenience store near SeaWorld is likely to have a couple of very clear missions, including being a great corporate neighbor in the community, while also providing the best food that it can to its customers.
If the store at 5910 Central Florida Parkway can end up combining those two goals, CEO Howard B. Stoeckel said, that’s even better.
The convenience store that first opened in 1964 in Folsom, Pennsylvania has become known for its hoagies – sandwiches filled with fresh meats and cheeses, as well as lettuce, tomatoes and onions, topped off with a dash of oregano on an Italian roll. It’s since become known as the Official Sandwich of Philadelphia.
Those hoagies will not only be introduced to Central Florida residents and tourists visiting the new store, but will also play a role in Wawa’s new philanthropic endeavor: to raise more than $20,000 in the next five weeks to contribute to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.
Second Harvest is one of the largest charitable domestic hunger-relief organizations in the country, which secures and distributes food and grocery products to local nonprofit feeding programs throughout Central Florida.
Stoeckel said Wawa appreciates their mission – and wants to help.
“A major stakeholder for us is the community we serve,” Stoeckel said this morning, during the grand opening of the store, the first one built by the company in Florida.
To assist the Second Harvest Food Bank, Wawa is donating a percentage of all its hoagie sales to the charitable group.
“We expect that to be at least $25,000,” he said. “We want to do the right thing and give back to the community.”
Wawa will be selling gasoline and also has surcharge-free ATMS, but they’re perhaps best known for their food – a complete line of dairy products, its signature brand of coffee, and meals that includes breakfast sandwiches, bakery products and hot soups.
During the opening ceremony, it was noted more than a few times the reputation that Wawa has built over the years for great food service.
“Everybody, it seems like, has a Wawa experience,” Gov. Rick Scott said, noting that his own daughter goes to college in Virginia and lives right near a Wawa store. When he visits her, Scott said, she always takes him to Wawa.
“I got hooked on the hoagies every time I come to visit her,” he said.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer joked that when Wawa made it official that they were coming to Orlando, he put in a special request.
“I just updated my resume,” he said. “I made the first Wawa hoagie. I figured if I didn’t get re-elected, they would hire me.”
Wawa has varieties of regular, decaf, and flavored coffees, as well as built-to-order sandwiches, tea, fruit juices and lemonade.
“We are delighted to be here and be a part of the community,” Stoeckel said. “The more time we spent here in Florida, we knew we wanted to be a part of your community.”
The company’s decision to relocate to Orlando – making Florida only the sixth state that have built in, and the first one outside of the Mid-Atlantic region – demonstrates that Orange County is a good place to do business, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs said.
“I don’t think there’s a friendlier place to do business than here,” Jacobs said. “We’re proud as we can be that you’ve chosen us as the sixth state.”
Dyer agreed, saying “That speaks volumes for what we have going on in our state and in Central Florida.”
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