The brand-new Wawa in my neighborhood - 4030 Concord Pike (US 202), between Wilmington and Concordville - has something I hadn't seen at a Wawa before: Tables and chairs.
Except for a few experiments, Wawa has mostly operated on the theory of in-and-out, eat-back-at-work (or -in-your-car). High traffic, like the old Commerce Bank. But this 16-gas-pump hoagies-smokes-snacks-and-Cokes shop features four 2-seater metal tables on the wide, porched and square-stone-pillared sidewalk just in front of the store.
"Outside seating is new to the area. In fact, this is the first store to have it in this region," spokeswoman Lori Bruce told me later. "It was part of the 'best of' [from] the Florida prototype," the big new stores Wawa started building in the Orlando and Tampa areas last year, which the Delaware County-based, 600+-store chain is beginning to incorporate into "select" stores in the Philadelphia area. (@AmyZQuinn tells us that a Florida Wawa is a nice place to sit down with a hoagie and buy beer. But Bruce confirms Florida rules don't allow you to drink at the store.)
So now late-night 202 travelers have a place to sit down to a cheap sandwich in the wee hours after Stoney's and the other bars close -- the first such place on the strip since the Turks who ran the 24-hour Golden Castle diner nearby shut down to make way for a surgi-center last year.
Among Wawa's neighboring chains, Western Pa.-based Sheetz, which covers northern Appalachia, offers seating in its red-painted stores, which are typically located on highways and not in Wawa's shoehorned-into-the-neighborhood suburban locations; while Royal Farms, the Baltimore gas-and-fried-chicken outfit that's trying to muscle into Wawa's Delaware County home turf, has put up meal counters in at least one urban location.