5 Reasons to Make a Pilgrimage to Philly's Smallest Wawa
Philadelphians have so much to be proud of nowadays. The City of Brotherly Love is home to a Super Bowl-winning football team, the most celebrated fictional boxer, cheeseteaks, and Wawa, one of the best convenience stores in America.
In December of 2018, the Philadelphia-based chain opened a massive 11,500-square-foot shop, right across from Independence Hall. In the shadow of the birthplace of American democracy, you can order customized Italian hoagies on futuristic touch screen menus, and dine at café tables or a couch with views of a leafy plant wall. In a testament to just how ubiquitous Wawas have become, last week, the fast-growing chain opened its newest outpost about ten blocks from the world’s biggest Wawa, and this one is teeny tiny.
Clocking in at about 2,700 square feet—about half the size of a standard Wawa—the shop is the city’s smallest, and the second smallest in the company’s 880-plus store portfolio. Situated in Center City on 16th and Chestnut Streets, this jewel box of a Wawa is optimized for efficient, speedy service to accommodate the concentration of office workers in the area. And while there are plenty of comforting familiarities that exemplify the country’s most beloved convenience store, including the touch screens and vats of free-flowing coffee, Tiny Wawa has an impressive array of fancy new features. An experimentation lab of sorts, the shop is trying out new products and ideas.
“It’s going to help us test new ways to tackle access, and find new ways to grow in market,” says Terri Micklin, Wawa’s director of construction. The chain is indeed expanding, with 62 new stores opened last year and 61 set to open this year in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Florida, and Washington, D.C.
Below, find five amazing things Philly’s newest, tiniest Wawa brings to the city.
It’s all about quick service
At the chain’s first-ever pick up window, customers can grab orders without even stepping foot inside the shop for that turkey Shorti, Herr’s chips, and Tastykake. Order online and pay via Wawa’s mobile app, then collect the goods at a preselected time, at the window facing out onto 16th Street. For those who prefer to browse, there’s still touch screen-ordering for custom hoagies, salads, and drinks, or an entire wall of pre-made sandwiches, soups, and other hot and cold foods to grab and go.
It’s got new drinks (including a tea bar)
With that speedy service in mind, the self-serve drink station is set up with Wawa’s usual coffee selection (now made with all sustainably-sourced beans), and a new-to-this-store Revolution hot tea bar. Other, more elaborate drinks are on offer from the touch screen menu—including the Earl Gray tea lavender latte, a Troubadour latte, made with a double shot of espresso, and a Molten Lava Latte, made with espresso and chocolate—which are all, for now, only made at Tiny Wawa.
Besides offering its daily mob of coffee seekers more environmentally-friendly accoutrements—bamboo stirrers, compostable straws, and recycled lids—the employees are sporting sustainable uniforms. Simple black polo shirts emblazoned with the corporate logo are made from recycled plastic. With a city-wide plastic bag ban on the horizon, the location is also selling reusable totes and insulated lunch bags.
It’s got a fresh new design
Belgian-born, Philly-based interior designer and graphics expert Gaëtane Michaux is responsible for the store’s wallpaper and mural. (Prior to starting her own company, she was the Global Director of Design for Urban Outfitters, another big Philly-based brand.) In a nod to Boathouse Row, the design depicts rowers, plus the world’s best fictional boxer Rocky, soft pretzels, and the Liberty Bell, among other city-centric icons.
It’s for testing out the big ideas
Nicknamed the “test nest,” the new store will be among the first to test out new food and drink specials, environmentally-friendlier products, and ordering and pickup methods. If something new works well at Tiny Wawa, chances are, you’ll see it at your local outpost soon.