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When a Gas Station is Just a Gas Station

Last week I saw a lot of enthusiastic tweets over the news that WaWa might open some gas stations and convenience stores in DC. I'll fully admit that I do not understand why this is such a special thing.

(from Robert Bruce Murray III // Sort Of Natural on Flickr)

In fact, I remember a similar level of enthusiasm a few months back when a certain chain donut shop opened on U Street. I never got it that time either.

In response, plenty of people have said - I'm from Philly (Boston) and WaWa (Dunkin Donuts) is awesome! But still, why? If you're from suburban Chicago, are you committed to loving McDonalds? If you hail from Seattle, must you think that Starbucks is the greatest thing on the planet?

Having heard all the hype, I went to my first WaWa in Virginia Beach last year. It was very much like many of the other gas stations I've been to in my life. Fine - but not all that different from a Pilot or a nice Speedway as far as I could tell. You could order greasy food from a touch screen, that was cool, I guess.

I understand the nostalgia appeal. It's nice to have something that reminds people of "back home" even if that something is a gas station. But I've also found that when that something is removed from the city where you remember it, it loses something.

It's known that I'm a big fan of the Great Lakes Brewing Company, and I'm happy about the fact they distribute in DC. Lately though, I've only been buying it when I'm back in Ohio. It's better, fresher, and less expensive there; and frankly, I'd rather drink something that's local to DC while I'm here.


Donnie said…
I would agree, except that I've been to a Buc-ee's. I'm not familiar with WaWa, but stopping at the Buc-ee's on I-10 between Houston and San Antonio was a real eye-opener.

That is how all gas stations should be.
dan reed! said…
I imagine that people who say Wawa is the "best thing ever," myself included, are exaggerating just a little.
Well, here's the thing. When people exclaim about Wawa (and it's Wawa, not WaWa), it's not about the gas station. It's about the convenience store. I went to school in Philly, and in that area, not all Wawas have gas stations attached. The set ups are kind of like 7-eleven in that for the most part, Wawas are just a convenience store, but some of them happen to have gas stations. But Wawas are so much more (microwaved 7-eleven pizza, anyone?).

Let's set another thing straight. The food is NOT greasy. Absolutely not. Of course you could get an Italian sub and your sausage meats will be greasy--but that's because they're sausage meats. The sandwiches are better than Subway, they're cheaper (10" turkey sub for $4.72, thank you very much), and there are apparently a growing list of options. Not only that, but I love Wawa iced tea, and they're the largest Tastykake "dealer" (they are like drugs, right?) that I've ever been to other than a Philly-area Acme supermarket. In fact, I just finished half of a 10" turkey Wawa sub I picked up randomly last night at one of the only Wawas in the DC area, in Beltsville. It was everything I remembered, and more. And that is why we love Wawa. I would gladly exchange every 7-eleven in our area for a Wawa in return, if only for their fresh-made sandwiches. Yum.
Dan, you're not exaggerating...
I should also add that the Wawa+gas stations are called "Super Wawa"s and they are only but a relatively small portion of the Wawa chain. I should also correct myself when I say subs--it should be hoagies. And I should also add that the food is made in the deli--a real deli, not a greasy fast food joint.
Anonymous said…
Critically Urban

I could not agree more.

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