Coffee at all three Wawa locations in Ocala is free for the first ten days
Coffee at all three Wawa locations in Ocala is free for the first ten days

Wawa will give away free coffee for 10 days and shirts to the first 200 customers across all three of their new Ocala locations. All three locations will host grand opening celebrations Thursday beginning at 8 a.m. and will remain open 24 hours a day, seven days a week after that.

Each location (3601 East Silver Springs Blvd., 1001 S. Pine Ave., and 3312 W. Silver Springs Blvd.) has planned food and drink samplings in addition to ribbon cuttings at 9 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m., respectively.

The stores also will honor local veterans organizations with check presentations to Ocala Marion Veterans’ Services USO, Veterans Helping Veterans, Advocacy Resource Center, Florida Center for the Blind and First Step Food Bank.

During Tuesday’s preview event, staff produced some of Wawa’s signature dishes for more than 100 local residents and fans.

Fans from all over the state were invited to take part in the opening, with many having traveled from all over Florida to visit different Wawa locations.

Fans and local dignitaries packed Wawa on E. Silver Springs Blvd for a sampling of food and drinks
Fans and local dignitaries packed Wawa on E. Silver Springs Blvd for a sampling of food and drinks

“We love Wawa” said Yvonne Thompson. Thompson, who lives locally, says while taking trips to Orlando for church, she frequently makes stops at Wawa and is excited to have three locations in the Ocala area.

Terri Haynes, Sharonda Reynolds and Aisha Mcintosh, who all work for Marion County Public Schools, were impressed by the food and drink offerings that have made the gas and convenience store a staple in many communities across Florida.

Ocala fans of Wawa
Terri Haynes, Sharonda Reynolds, Aisha Mcintosh, and Yvonne Thompson (from left) enjoy a food sampling at the preview event for Wawa in Ocala

“I love their smoothies” said Haynes. Each location offers prepared food and drinks on a continual basis, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Staff prepare food for preview event at Wawa on E. Silver Springs Blvd in Ocala
Staff prepare food for a preview event at Wawa on E. Silver Springs Blvd in Ocala

The Wawa company, which is more than 200 years old, now has over 840 stores across six states and Washington D.C.

According to Wawa Senior Director of Florida Operations Todd Souders, with the openings of the Ocala locations (which mark the 172nd, 173rd and 174th locations in the State of Florida), the company now has more than 7,000 associates across the Sunshine State, up from around 50 in 2012.

In Florida alone, Wawa has sold more than 46 million hoagies and nationally serves 500 million customers each year.

Manager of the E. Silver Springs location, Kristin, makes one of the first hoagies
Manager of the E. Silver Springs location, Kristin Frizzle, makes one of the first hoagies

In addition to the three locations opening Thursday, Wawa has aggressive plans to expand in the Sunshine State.

“Our plans are to build another 300 stores in Florida alone. We are investing about $1.8 billion in the state,” says Steve Hasher, Wawa Director of Operations.

Hasher indicated that the company has two other local stores in the works, with locations under construction or planned at Maricamp Road and along U.S. Highway 27 in Belleview.

“In the next five to 10 years, from Ocala to Gainesville, we plan to have about 20 stores,” Hasher added.

As part of the organization’s commitment to the community, The Wawa Foundation, which celebrated its fifth year in operation this year, has donated more than $67 million to causes supporting health, hunger and heroes, with $7 million of that distributed to organizations in Florida.

“Anything that we collect in our stores, we track on a store-by-store basis. So everything that is collected locally stays local,” said Liz Simeone, Wawa Foundation and Community Care senior supervisor.

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