I am no longer a Wawa wirgin.
Like most people in Central Florida, I’ve been watching the Wawafication of the area as more of the convenience chain’s stores popped up here and there. Mostly here. I even cheered the arrival of some, especially the one that opened recently near the airport and which will, one hopes, draw in more tourists on their way to drop their rental cars off with contractually agreed upon full tanks, rather than having them stop at the blood-sucking gas gougers nearby who charge near-usury rates for fuel. (Not to mention the car rental companies that themselves charge exorbitant fees.) Perhaps more visitors will now leave with a better taste in their mouths.
And they just might if they also choose to order a sandwich to take with them on the flight.
Even though the Wawas have been opening at an alarming rate, I had decided I would wait for the one to open in my neighborhood (and make no mistake: one will open in every neighborhood before this is finished).
Mine opened earlier this month, and when I visited, it was full of people who were happy to welcome the new business into the neighborhood. Or maybe it was the free coffee Wawa was offering.
I stopped in for gas and a sandwich. In that order.
All the Wawas feature a high-tech sandwich ordering system that all but eliminates the need for contact with a human. Sort of like a digital Automat. To place an order, guests approach one of several kiosks with touchscreen terminals. After touching said screen, you’re taken through several detailed steps to place an order.
For example, for my roast beef sandwich, I was prompted to choose from among several types of bread, then select toppings and condiments. I could even indicate how much of a particular condiment I wanted or if I preferred them on the side.
Once you’ve loaded up your order to your liking, you complete the order, take the ticket the terminal spits out, go to the cash register to pay, then wait for the human sandwich maker to call your number. (That is, the person who makes the sandwich is a human; they do not offer any human sandwiches.)
That was the only annoying part of the process, having to go to the cash register to pay. I would have preferred the option to swipe my credit card at the terminal.
But I suppose they want you to wander through the store and make more purchases. Perhaps stroll into the walk-in beer cooler or shop for some other convenience store staples. My Pennsylvania-native friend was particularly pleased to see the line of Tastykake snacks, an homage to Wawa’s PA roots. Its headquarters, in fact, are in Wawa, Penn., so that should answer your questions about the origins of the name.
And the sandwich? It was actually quite good, not in small part because of the freshness of the roll. There was plenty of meat and cheese, and the toppings and condiments were applied as ordered. I would stop in for another one.
And if I’m on the way to the airport, I just might order one for my carryon bag.
You can look for a Wawa location near you at the company’s website.