Wawa: filling stomachs and fulfilling expectations

Wawa goes beyond the ordinary and into the extraordinary


Photo Jadyn Grayes

A Wawa turkey sandwich on white bread with lettuce and avocado.

Vikram Sambasivan, News Editor

What’s the best type of restaurant? 

A big nationwide chain has a lot of convenience and consistency, while a small, local, hole-in-the-wall place that has high quality and incredibly tasty food, something often forgotten in large chains. Now imagine the two combined, a big convenient chain, with the look, love, and quality of a local restaurant. Welcome to Wawa.

The promoted values of both Wawa and Panera are the same, so the real points are seen in the execution.

When I walk into a Wawa, there’s just something about it. Perhaps it’s the smiling faces of the employees and customers, or maybe it’s the wide variety of affordable, quick, and fresh food available. But, whatever it is, it feels like I’ve been welcomed into a better place.

When I hear remarks about Wawa, many sing their praises but, many also utter scornful expressions of Wawa being “just a gas station.” While sure, Wawa is technically a place that serves gas, it’s not just a gas station. Saying that is similar to calling Costco a gas station solely because they have gas.

Wawa’s true gem lies in its foundation: hoagies. Wawa has a large selection of choices to assemble one’s hoagies from. Their dangerous mix of quality and low prices makes them a competitor of major restaurant/café empires. They’ve recently added many other options including paninis, burgers, pasta and more on top of premium coffee/drinks, a breathtaking selection of snacks and reasonably priced gas. 

Whenever I’m in a bind for a meal, or if I don’t want to overpay for unhealthy food, I visit Wawa. Especially with being vegetarian, Wawa has an array of dietary-friendly options for me, while still having choices for others. With a growing vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, etc. population, having an affordable, nutritiously balanced choice for this demographic is very convenient.

Wawa has incredible customer service. The employees are kind and accommodating, and the streamlined ordering system gives Wawa their fast service. By ordering electronically through a tablet one gets a receipt instantly, so they can pay in advance and leave within 3-5 minutes.

As you can probably tell, I’ve gone to Wawa more than a few times, but for the purposes of this story, I also visited Panera to make sure that I knew what I was talking about. 

I mentioned above that the real difference between Panera and Wawa is the execution, and that is where Panera completely and utterly fails.

While the employees at Panera were nice, that’s about all that was. After an incredibly long wait, my highly anticipated order was not my order at all. Once I finished haggling with them to obtain the food that I was not given, I wished I hadn’t. Having ordered a simple sandwich, and Mac and Cheese I figured I had set the bar low. One flavorless sandwich and an aqueous Mac and Cheese later left me borderline nauseated.

Two choices so similar, yet so incredibly far apart. Seeing Wawa get scoffed at just because it sells gas, makes me ask the question, What’s so wrong with getting something high quality for cheap? Is a brand new phone at a 50% discount less valuable than the exact same phone (or in this case, a lower quality phone) for full price?

Wawa is a food establishment that appeals to all. It is a uniting force, gas station, a restaurant, but ultimately it is a company built on a community that welcomes everyone, giving us all a place to get good food, meant to be shared and rejoiced over with friends, family, and loved ones.