Wawa representatives joined by local officials and members of the community gathered this month for the grand opening of its new long-awaited Valrico store.

Wawa’s fanfare-filled opening celebration included a much-anticipated charitable hoagie building competition between representatives from the United Service Organization (USO) Tampa Bay, a check presentation to the USO, and free coffee for the first 10 days the store is open.

The festivities also welcomed Wawa Director of Store Operations, Todd Souders; Wawa Area Manager, Peter Rasmussen; Wawa General Manager, Kira Faust and Wawa’s mascot, Wally Goose, all of whom joined together for a ceremonial ribbon cutting.

The grand opening of the Valrico Wawa store located at 2224 Bloomingdale Ave. marks the 11th Wawa store to open in 2014, closely followed by two more stores scheduled to open on State Road 60, and St. Cloud and another on Hwy. 301 and Causeway, by the end of the year.

According to Wawa’s President and CEO Chris Gheysens, the rapid opening of stores in the region is only the beginning as Wawa plans to open dozens of new stores.

At the current rate, Wawa will have 56 stores in Florida, 32 in Orlando and 24 in Tampa before the year is up. Wawa projects throughout the Orlando and Tampa markets it will operate close to 100 stores within the next five years.

“In 2014, we’re celebrating a number of incredible milestones, our 50th anniversary, the launch of our community foundation, the release of our first-ever book, and the grand opening of 45 new stores,” Gheysens said. “We could not be more excited to be setting the tone for 2014 with a new store right in Valrico.”

Wawa, on behalf of The Wawa Foundation, presented a check to the USO for $4,334. All of the funds were raised across the state of Florida between Saturday, June 14 and Sunday, July 6 as a part of the Summer UPC campaign where customers were invited to donate $1, $3, or $5 as a part of their purchase.

“We’re looking forward to the next 50 years here in Valrico and beyond,” Gheysens said.

The grand opening event concluded with Hoagies for Heroes, a charitable hoagie building competition with members of the Tampa Bay Chapter of the USO sporting their sandwich-making skills. Each team was challenged to see who could build the most hoagies in three minutes in the traditional Wawa way. The competition concluded with a $1,000 check presentation to the winning and runner up USO Tampa Bay teams.

“We are thrilled to expand our presence in Florida and cannot think of a better way to celebrate than by recognizing the USO and showing our appreciation for the men and women who serve in the armed forces and their families,” Souders said.

Wawa officials emphasized that associates in full- and part-time positions will receive competitive salaries and health benefits, and have the opportunity to be enrolled in Wawa’s employee stock ownership plan.

The new Wawa store will offer customers numerous Wawa brands, such as the award-winning Wawa coffee (195 million cups sold annually); Wawa’s hot breakfast sandwich, the Sizzli; Wawa’s new line of specialty beverages (hot, cold, iced and frozen); Wawa Bakery; Wawa’s built-to-order hoagies (80 million sold annually); and Wawa’s beverage line of dairy products, juices and teas.

For more information about Wawa, visit www.wawa.com.


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