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In Kill Devil Hills, construction begins soon on North Carolina’s first Wawa

FILE - This April 2, 2015 file photo shows a Wawa convenience store in Philadelphia.
Matt Rourke
FILE - This April 2, 2015 file photo shows a Wawa convenience store in Philadelphia.

Wawa is coming to North Carolina.

A Pennsylvania-based convenience store and gas station chain, Wawa has over 990 locations in Washington D.C. and six states, including Virginia.

Next month, it will start building its first location in North Carolina.

The Kill Devil Hills Board of Commissioners approved a proposal for the new Wawa in the Wright Shores area last year. The site will be located on N. Croatan Highway. The private family-owned chain store will have its groundbreaking event in Kill Devil Hills on May 12 at 10 a.m.

Once finished, it will feature a 6,000 square-foot storefront, eight gas pumps, and 52 parking spots.

Wawa officials are expected to share the construction timelines and expansion plans during the event.

Drivers who frequent roads near I-85 and I-95 between Virginia and New Jersey will recognize the gas station brand, with its red lettering and flying goose atop its signs.

Not only is the 24-hour chain known for its gas pumps, vast soda coolers, and shelves filled with TastyKakes, but Wawa also has coffee that is beloved by many and is the home to its famous hoagie sandwiches, among other made-to-order food items. Wawa gained some additional widespread fame in 2021 when it was prominently featured in the HBO dramatic miniseries "Mare of Easttown" starring Kate Winslet.

Its food and beverage offerings have given Wawa a religious-like following of sorts in the mid-Atlantic region, where everyone has an opinion on which gas station chain is the best. The choices: Wawa, Sheetz, and Royal Farms.

Sheetz exists in North Carolina, dotting exits along I-40 and I-85, but neither Wawa nor Royal Farms has ever graced the Tar Heel state with its presence. Texas-based Buc-ee’s — the latest entrant into the gas station wars — announced plans to expand as far north as Virginia but doesn't have any locations in North Carolina yet.

Earlier this year, Wawa CEO Chris Gheysens confirmed the chain’s arrival in North Carolina to the Philadelphia Business Journal, saying that Wawa will “debut in parts” of the state in the “next couple years.”

In addition to the location in Kill Devil Hills, it seems like Wawa is targeting North Carolina’s coast for its entry, based on recent reports:

  • According tothe Port City Daily, two locations in the Cape Fear region were pitched to Wilmington city officials as sites for Wawa this past October. The spots are at the intersection of S. 17th Street and Wellington Avenue in Wilmington, and on the corner of U.S. Highway 17 and Lanvale Road in Leland. The proposed location on S. 17th Street was approved for a rezoning request earlier this month, WECT reported.
  • Then, in November, WOBX reported that plans were submitted to officials in Elizabeth City to build a Wawa at the site of a seafood restaurant. Following that news, Wawa spokesperson Jen Wolf told Axios Charlotte, “We are expanding to North Carolina and actively looking for sites and have indicated our first openings would be in 2024.”
  • Later in November, the Daily Reflector reported that Greenville’s Board of Adjustment approved special use permits for two Wawa locations, one on Memorial Drive and the other on East 10th Street.
Sharryse Piggott is WUNC’s PM Reporter.
Mitchell Northam is a Digital Producer for WUNC. His past work has been featured at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, SB Nation, the Orlando Sentinel and the Associated Press. He is a graduate of Salisbury University and is also a voter in the AP Top 25 poll for women's college basketball.
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